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Triangulum Galaxy Shows Stunning Face in Detailed Hubble Portrait

Triangulum Galaxy Shows Stunning Face in Detailed Hubble Portrait

Panoramic image displays nearly 25 million stars

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has produced this stunningly detailed portrait of the Triangulum galaxy (M33), displaying a full spiral face aglow with the light of nearly 25 million individually resolved stars. It is the largest high-resolution mosaic image of Triangulum ever assembled, composed of 54 Hubble fields of view spanning an area more than 19,000 light-years across.

Close-up Views of Triangulum Galaxy (M33)
Details in the Triangulum galaxy
While the Triangulum galaxy (M33) has led a quiet life compared to other massive galaxies, it still contains evidence of a rich “inner life.” This collage zooms into several areas of the larger mosaic, highlighting the amazing details that NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveals. Almost every dot of light is a star, with occasional dense clusters of stars, or even rare background galaxies shining through.
The top image is a close-up of NGC 604, a glowing nebula of hot, ionized hydrogen gas that cocoons bright young stars, found in the upper left corner of the larger mosaic image. The high density of star formation throughout the galaxy is one of Triangulum’s most striking features, leading to many bright nebulae like NGC 604.
Dense knots of many thousands of ancient stars gravitationally bound together, called globular star clusters, can also be seen in the galaxy. The image also includes foreground stars that are within our own Milky Way galaxy and lie along the line-of-sight to M33. These bright nearby stars show characteristic “diffraction spikes” (lines that appear to be radiating from a bright star) that are optical artifacts caused by the mirror support structure in most reflector telescopes.
Some of the more extended features in the image are not nebulae like NGC 604, but instead are distant galaxies shining through from the far side of Triangulum. They are distinguishable from stars only due to Hubble’s exceptional sensitivity and resolution.
Even though Triangulum is one of our closest galactic neighbors, Hubble still puts the vastness of space in perspective. Beyond the awe-inspiring display of Triangulum’s nearly 25 million stars and 19,400 light-year span, other — perhaps even larger — galaxies lie waiting to be explored.
The mosaic was created from images taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys between February 2017 and February 2018.

The Local Group of galaxies is dominated by the Milky Way, Andromeda, and Triangulum. As the junior member of this trio of spiral galaxies, Triangulum provides the valuable comparisons and contrasts that only a close companion can. Most notably, Triangulum’s star formation is 10 times more intense than in the comparable Hubble panorama of the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. Astronomers have only begun to mine the enormous amount of data generated by these new Hubble observations, and expect they will yield important insights into the effects of such vigorous star formation.

The orderly nature of Triangulum’s spiral, with dust distributed throughout, is another distinctive feature. Astronomers think that in the Local Group, Triangulum has been something of an introvert, isolated from frequent interactions with other galaxies while keeping busy producing stars along organized spiral arms. 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.

source: Hubblesite

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