NASA’s Hubble Takes Incredible 665-Million Pixel Image of Triangulum Galaxy

This gigantic image of the Triangulum Galaxy — also known as Messier 33 — is a composite of about 54 different pointings with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. (Credit NASA ESA and M. Durbin J. Dalcanton and B. F. Williams (University of Wa

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) on Monday released the most detailed image of our close neighbor, the Triangulum Galaxy-located a mere 3 million light years from Earth.

It's our neighbor in a collection of dozens of galaxies called the Local Group, and was captured in unprecedented detail in image consisting of 54 Hubble fields of view stitched together, revealing almost 25 million individually resolved stars. The galaxy is usually visible as a faint, blurry object under dark-sky conditions.

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.

Daniel Weisz, an assistant professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley, was honored at this week's meeting of the American Astronomical Society for his early-career research on relatively nearby "dwarf" galaxies using the Hubble Space Telescope. The mosaic showcases the central region of the galaxy and its inner spiral arms. The remaining galaxies of the group orbit any one of these three larger members.

It also has at least an order of magnitude less stars than the Milky Way and two orders of magnitude less than Andromeda.

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured an incredibly detailed image of the Triangulum Galaxy.

The latest image was taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.

In contrast to the two larger spirals, Triangulum doesn't have a bright bulge at its center and it also lacks a bar connecting its spiral arms to the center. "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".

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.

Still, Messier 33 remains an important find, its abundance of gas clouds drawing astronomers to conduct this detailed analysis. What it does have, however, is a huge amount of gas and dust that allows for stars to be formed at a rapid rate of approximately one solar mass every two years. One of these is the second brightest region of ionized hydrogen found across the entire Local Group-making it ideal for the study of stellar evolution.