Jan 24, 2015 02:53 PM EST
While a new view of the the "Pillars of Creation" from the Eagle Nebula (Messier 16) was revealed this last Monday, Jan. 5 for the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, researchers at NASA have revealed an even brighter sight from a bird's-eye view. Publishing their latest images from the Hubble Space Telescope, researchers at NASA are proudly displaying the largest Hubble image ever assembled in a stunning wide-angle view of the Andromeda galaxy next door.
Though the galaxy is over 2 million light-years away, NASA explains that the Hubble Space Telescope's greatest accomplishment lies in the 25 years of improvements the Hubble has seen since it was first sent into space in 1990.
"It allows us to demonstrate how far Hubble has come in 25 years of observation" Arizona State University researcher involved in the capturing of the original iconic image, Paul Scowen says about the newest set of imagery released by the Hubble Space Telescope. "It really is quite remarkable."
Able to resolve each and every star in the Andromeda galaxy's 61,000-light-year-long stretch, the Hubble is not only one of the greatest imaging technologies that NASA has ever created, it is also one of the most precise. Capable of photographing far off galaxies, like a photographer at the beach is able to capture every single grain of sand, the Hubble Space Telescope is a great device that is allowing NASA researchers far different views of the vast universe.
"This ambitious photographic cartography of the Andromeda galaxy represents a new benchmark for precision studies of large spiral galaxies that dominate the universe's population of over 100 billion galaxies" spokesman for the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, Ray Villard says. "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."
A product of the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT) program, the panoramic image was obtained using Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Wide Field Camera 3 aboard the Hubble telescope, filtering out any dust or debris that may obstruct the view by viewing the the galaxy in filters of red and blue. Though the Andromeda galaxy has been captured, and studied in depth before, the new view allows researchers to test the boundaries of exactly how vast their view is of the universe. And astronomers with NASA are excited about the prospects.
"Today's announcement shares the discovery of our ever-changing cosmos" Villard says. "And [it] brings us closer to learning whether we are alone in the universe."
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