The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a striking portrait of the Triangulum Galaxy, displaying a full spiral face aglow with the light of almost 25 million individually resolved stars.
You may have spotted the Triangulum Galaxy-also known as Messier 33 or NGC 598-on a particularly clear night: it's that faint, blurry object in the constellation of Triangulum (the Triangle). But just a little farther - okay, 500,000 light-years farther - is another spiral galaxy, the third largest in our local group.
Astronomers have measured Triangulum to be around 60,000 light-years across and contain around 40 billion stars - by comparison, the Milky Way spans an estimated 150,000 light-years and has hundreds of billions of stars.
The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the best-ever image of the galaxy next door, the Triangulum galaxy (M33). Hubble's vivid view, shared Monday, combines 54 images into one image showing the central part of the galaxy and some of its spiral arms.
In the past, star-formation histories in the Local Group have been measured one galaxy at a time, often using different analysis techniques.
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The Hubble Space Telescope has done it again. The extent of the new huge mosaic created with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is shown by the irregularly shaped region and the main image presented here by the rectangle within it. Image credit: NASA / ESA / Digitized Sky Survey 2 / Davide De Martin.
The runt of the litter also lacks the conventional bright bulge at its heart and does not have a bar connecting its spiral arms to the center.
Astronomers think that Triangulum has avoided disruptive interactions with other galaxies, instead spending the eons tending its well-ordered spiral and turning out new generations of stars.
The abundance of gas clouds in the Triangulum Galaxy is precisely what drew astronomers to conduct this detailed survey. "Uncovering the Triangulum galaxy's story will provide an important point of reference in understanding how galaxies develop over time, and the diverse paths that shape what we see today".
During star formation, the clouds of gas and dust in galaxies are used to fuel growth.