Andromeda can be seen in exquisite detail in the NASA photograph. This is because the image is actually the result of a total of 7,398 exposures taken over 411 individual pointings made by the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA wrote in a statement: “This image of our nearest major galactic neighbour, M3 – also known as the Andromeda galaxy – is the largest Hubble mosaic to date.”
The 1.5 billion pixels in the mosaic reveal over 100 million stars and thousands of star clusters embedded in a section of the Andromeda galaxy.
Despite the fact Andromeda is more than two million light-years away, constant upgrades to Hubble allow the telescope enough power to resolve individual stars in this 61,000-light-year-long stretch of the disk.
NASA added: “It’s like photographing a beach and resolving individual grains of sand.”
However, Persian astronomer Abd al-rahman al-Sufi’s The Book of Fixed Stars from the year 964 contains the first known report of the object.
The emergence of the cosmic mosaic coincides with the news two ancient migration events took place in the Andromeda galaxy.
Astronomers have uncovered two historic events in which the Andromeda Galaxy underwent major changes to its structure.
The findings shed light not only on the evolution and formation of the Andromeda Galaxy, but also to our own Milky Way.
Large galaxies such as ours are believed to grow through repeated merging with smaller, dwarf galaxies.
Astronomers have uncovered evidence for two major migration events in the history of our large galactic neighbour.
The more recent migration event occurred a few billion years ago and the older event many billions of years prior.
The evidence for the two events comes from “galactic archaeology” – the use of the motions and properties of stars and stellar clusters to reconstruct the formation and evolutionary history of galaxies.
Professor Geraint Lewis of the University of Sydney, a co-author of the study, said: “By tracing the faint remains of dwarf galaxies with star clusters, we’ve been able to recreate the way the Andromeda Galaxy drew them in at different times, from what’s known as the ‘cosmic web’ of matter that threads the Universe.”