Largest ever image of a galaxy is more than your average snap
The largest and most detailed photograph of a galaxy ever released has been taken by the Hubble telescope revealing 3000 new stars.
However, this was more than your average Kodak moment. Rather than a simple snap, the image of the spiral galaxy Messier 101 – known as the Pinwheel galaxy – was built up from many individual Hubble images, along with ground-based exposures.
The new image reveals the gigantic Pinwheel galaxy, the largest and most detailed photo of a spiral galaxy ever released.
Head of communications for the European Space Agency (ESA) and Hubble, Lars Lindberg Christensen, explained to Laboratory News: “By painstakingly stitching together 51 separate exposures from Hubble we managed to combine Hubble’s high resolution with a wide-field view of this nearby galaxy.”
In a move that will please re-cyclers everywhere, the Hubble observations that went into assembling the image were retrieved from the Hubble archive and were originally acquired for a range of past projects.
The giant spiral disk of stars, dust and gas is 170,000 light-years across which equates to nearly twice the diameter of our Milky Way. The galaxy is estimated to contain at least one trillion stars, approximately 100 billion of which may be similar to our Sun in terms of temperature and lifespan.
Christensen told Laboratory News: “The detailed view into the scorching star-forming regions in the spiral arms of Messier 101 reveals an incredible activity. What I find particularly breathtaking is the view through the Pinwheel Galaxy to the distant galaxies behind. A reminder of the enormous size and low density of the Universe.”