NASA’s 1.5 Billion Pixel Image Traces Galaxy’s Evolution Over Billions of Years

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Sharpest ever view of the Andromeda Galaxy

On January 5, 2015, NASA and ESA released what is now known as the biggest and highest resolution image that has ever been taken of Andromeda, the galaxy neighbor to our Milky Way.

The image, which was first presented at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington, was assembled into a mosaic using 411 separate high-resolution images taken by the infamous Hubble Space Telescope. In fact, it features a 1.5 billion-pixel resolution and would require roughly 600 HD television sets to be displayed in full.

“It’s like photographing a beach and resolving individual grains of sand,” said NASA in their January announcement.

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In the picture, you can see over 100 million stars of the estimated trillion stars in the Andromeda Galaxy, which is also known as “Messier 31” (or M31) and located 2.5 million light-years from Earth. As massive as the image is, it still only captures a part of the galactic neighbor.

“The part photographed is 40,000 light-years across, but represents only one side of the galaxy, since the left hand end only just captures the galactic center. The outermost regions have also been excluded with the galaxy’s full diameter estimated at 3-5 times this size,” said Georgia Bladon, ESA/Hubble Public Information Officer, on the space telescope’s official blog.

The image you see above doesn’t do the Hubble Space Telescope justice, so a high-resolution video that zooms in and out of the image to provide stereoscopic context has been released on YouTube:

“The large groups of blue stars in the galaxy indicate the locations of star clusters and star-forming regions in the spiral arms, whilst the dark silhouettes of obscured regions trace out complex dust structures. Underlying the entire galaxy is a smooth distribution of cooler red stars that trace Andromeda’s evolution over billions of years,” Bladon adds.

It is hard to imagine, but you are looking at thousands of star clusters with some of their own planetary systems and this is only one of 200 billion galaxies in the known universe (our Milky Way is another one).

“Never before have astronomers been able to see individual stars inside an external spiral galaxy over such a large contiguous area. Most of the stars in the universe live inside such majestic star cities, and this is the first data that reveal populations of stars in context to their home galaxy,” NASA added in their announcement.

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Now, astronomers will be able to interpret the light from many other galaxies that have similar structures, but are located much further away, based on the clarity of the results generated by the Hubble Space Telescope Multi-cycle program.

“This detailed view, which captures over 100 million stars, represents a new benchmark for precision studies of this galaxy type,“ Bladon concluded.

If you would like to zoom into the image and unravel the secrets of our universe yourself, check out this high-resolution version of the image NASA/ESA provided here.

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Image Credit: NASA / ESA


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This article is a result of team work! Luminary Daily is an Online Magazine and Media Channel designed to provide content with a positive view on news, facts and stories from all around the world for audiences who seek to be informed in an uplifting, meaningful, and deeper sense while avoiding a constant barrage of bad news and negative gossip.


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One Comment

  • Adama Ra s Murray

    Hay Luminaries loving the page a lot. I somehow stumbled into a documentary last night that I believe was related to these new images somehow,, about the earth taking a trip through the galaxy and universe, how green gas represented oxygen, very thorough, spectacular documentary that puts the commercialized “Cosmos” to utter shame. And now I cant find it!! I will be eternally grateful to anyone who knows, and could direct me pleease!! 😮 <3

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