Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
Through the years, the Hubble space telescope has been captivating fans of the universe with mind blowing image after image. Well this one is Hubble’s largest image ever taken and the WOW factor is right up there with the best of them. It’s of a section of our neighboring star city, Andromeda or Messier 31 (M31) 2.5 million light years away.
This incredible 411 image 1.5 billion pixel mosaic spans 40,000 light years of Andromeda and it contains 100 million resolvable stars. If you were to expand the 4.3 GB image to its full size you would need 600 HD television screens!
If you’re looking for Andromeda yourself here’s what you need to know: Andromeda is the most distant naked eye object you can see regularly. Supernova and gamma ray bursts can be seen at much greater distances but they don’t last long. Andromeda, if seen in its entirety stretches 3 degrees of sky which is 6 times the width of the full moon. What you will see through an average telescope is the faint smudge of the galactic nucleus and that’s likely to be about it. Viewing galaxies takes some practice but don’t let that discourage you.
NAME: Andromeda, Messier 31, M31, NGC 224.
WHAT IS IT?: Spiral Galaxy and our closest non-dwarf neighbor as well as the largest galaxy in our local group in size.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Currently 2.5 million light years distant.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Approximately 200,000 light years in diameter (twice that of the Milky Way) with a mass roughly equal to it. On the night sky it is 190’ x 60’ arcminutes or about 3 degrees which equates to 6 times the diameter of the average full moon.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE?: 3.44 or +3.44 which is naked eye visible from dark locations.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Andromeda.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 00h 42m 44.3s / DEC +41° 16′ 9″.
ESA Hubble ZOOM TOOL page for this image: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic1502a/zoomable/
ESA Hubble page for these images: http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1502/
ESA Hubble download page for this image: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic1502a/
NASA Hubble News Center page for this image: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2015/02/