High definition images of the Andromeda galaxy have been captured by the Hubble Space Telescope recently. Located at a distance of 2.5 million light years, the Andromeda galaxy is the closest galaxy to us. This spiral galaxy is twice the size of the Milky Way and houses a huge number of stars. The new images are the most detailed pictures of the galaxy obtained till date and they would be very helpful in learning more about the galaxy.
NASA explained “The Hubble Space Telescope is powerful enough to resolve individual stars in a 61,000-light-year-long stretch of the galaxy’s pancake-shaped disk. It’s like photographing a beach and resolving individual grains of sand. And there are lots of stars in this sweeping view, over 100 million, with some of them in thousands of star clusters seen embedded in the disk.” The space agency also mentioned that the new images with such impressive resolution have created a benchmark for precision studies of large spiral galaxies, which are found in abundance in the population of more than 100 billion galaxies.
Before this, the astronomers never succeeded in viewing individual stars inside an external spiral galaxy. Such majestic star cities are the home to most of the stars of the universe. These images have, for the first time, revealed the population of stars in the galaxy. Scientists believe that at one point of time the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies will merge, however, this is not expected to occur before another two billion years. They also opine that the Earth won’t exist during the time of merger. The merger of two spiral galaxies will probably give rise to an elliptical galaxy.