This image of the Triangulum galaxy is the second-largest image ever taken by Hubble. (NASA, ESA, and M. Durbin, J. Dalcanton, and B. F. Williams, University of Washington)
As you may have noticed, there haven’t been Many Worlds columns of late. The reason, as you can no doubt guess, is that the column is supported to some extent by NASA, and the agency is caught in the government shutdown. So I have gotten a STOP WORK order and will not be writing much for now. But I do want to continue with my Facebook postings, with some stories or images.
As a starter, this lovely picture is the second largest Hubble image ever taken. The result of shooting by the space observatory’s iconic Advanced Camera for Surveys, it is made up of 665 million pixels. It features the Triangulum spiral galaxy, some 3 million light-years from Earth.
The Triangulum is small by cosmic standards, at about half the diameter of the Milky Way and a quarter of the diameter of the Andromeda galaxy. Still, astronomers estimate there are anywhere between 10 and 15 millions stars contained in this image.
Also known as Messier 33, the full galaxy is made up of 40 billion stars, which is faintly visible by naked eye under a dark sky as a small smudge in the constellation Triangulum (the triangle.)
Marc Kaufman is the author of two books about space: “Mars Up Close: Inside the Curiosity Mission” and “First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Search for Life Beyond Earth.” He is also an experienced journalist, having spent three decades at The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. He began writing the column in October 2015, when NASA’s NExSS initiative was in its infancy. While the “Many Worlds” column is supported and informed by NASA’s Astrobiology Program, any opinions expressed are the author’s alone.