Astronomy Picture of the Day – Andromeda Rising over the Alps

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2015 August 17


Andromeda Rising over the Alps
Image Credit & Copyright: Matteo Dunchi

 

 

Explanation: Have you ever seen the Andromeda galaxy? Although M31 appears as a faint and fuzzy blob to the unaided eye, the light you see will be over two million years old, making it likely the oldest light you ever will see directly. Now rising near a few hours after sunset from mid-latitude northern locations, Andromeda is rising earlier each night and will be visible to northerners all night long starting in September. The featured image captured Andromeda rising above the Italian Alps last month. As cool as it may be to see this neighboring galaxy to our Milky Way with your own eyes, long duration camera exposures can pick up many faint and breathtaking details. Recent data indicates that our Milky Way Galaxy will collide and coalesce with the slightly larger Andromeda galaxy in a few billion years.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day – Spiral Galaxy in Collision

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2012 August 12

Spiral Galaxy NGC 4038 in Collision I

mage Credit: Data Collection: Hubble Legacy Archive;

Processing: Danny Lee Russell

 

Explanation: This galaxy is having a bad millennium.  In fact, the past 100 million years haven’t been so good,  and probably the next billion or so will be quite tumultuous.  Visible on the upper left, NGC 4038 used to be a normal spiral galaxy, minding its own business, until NGC 4039, toward its right,  crashed into it.  The evolving wreckage, known famously as  the Antennae, is pictured above.  As gravity  restructures each galaxy, clouds of gas slam into each other,  bright blue knots of stars form, massive stars form and  explode,  and brown filaments of dust are strewn about.  Eventually the  two galaxies will converge into one larger spiral galaxy. Such collisions are not unusual, and even our own  Milky Way Galaxy has undergone several in the past and is  predicted to collide with our neighboring  Andromeda Galaxy in a few billion years. The  frames that compose this image were taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope by professional astronomers to  better understand galaxy collisions. These frames — and many other deep space images from  Hubble — have since been  made public,  allowing an interested amateur to download and  process them into this visually stunning composite.