It was about time we got to see the galaxy in bright HD quality. That is now possible due to the Hubble Telescope, which helped put together the largest Andromeda panorama. It is assessed to be the largest picture ever shot and its beauty consists of more than 100 million stars spread on close to a 48,000 light-year-long star sky. The 1.5 billion-pixel image occupies more than 4 GB of memory space and it was composed from 411 pictures.
If you need a more tangible perspective of how immense this picture is, the European Space Agency explained that at least 600 HD TV screen would be required to present the whole image. It is also a new landmark as the largest picture that Hubble has ever produced.
For those a bit in the dark here, Andromeda is the galaxy closest to our, the Milky Way, located only 2 million light-years away. After displaying the picture at the 225th Meeting of the Astronomical Society, the US space team explained the enormous quality Hubble is capable of: the spectators were encouraged to imagine taking a picture of a beach and being able to see each grain of sand individually. The program which made this huge picture possible was generated through the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT), which took pictures of Andromeda in near-ultraviolet and near infrared wavelengths.
The image is a wonder to look at. At the center, you can see clusters of stars from the most distant cosmic systems, and as you follow the picture to the margins, it shows infinite rows of stars and the dust that floats around them.
Different colors show different stages of star development: bright blue star groups are the new, young ones. Cool, red stars go back a few billion years, a live map of the evolution of the galaxy spreading right in front of your eyes. Darker areas depict more complex dust formations.
Hubble was able to show the astronomers that the galaxies have looked like this for a while, and that new stars are no longer in formation. Detailed data collection indicates that after only 3 billion years after formation, the galaxy suspended any new “star production”.
The cause of this phenomenon might be the energy sent from the central black hole, which stirs up the gas which would otherwise start condensing into stars.
Image Source: California Indian Education