Hubble captures distant star images

July 21, 2011 at 6:04 PM
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GREENBELT, Md., July 21 (UPI) -- The Hubble telescope has made historic images of a nearby galaxy, the first to show individual stars within a galactic disk, U.S. and European astronomers say.

Observations of most galaxies do not show the individual stars as even the most powerful telescopes cannot normally resolve the cloudy white shapes into their hundreds of millions of constituent stars, a release from the ESA/Hubble Information Center said.

Andromeda Galaxy, however, is closer to our own galaxy than any other spiral galaxy, so close it can be seen with the naked eye on a very dark night.

Hubble's unparalleled image quality as a result of the telescope's position above the atmosphere has allowed it to observe and capture images of a wide variety of stars in Andromeda, ranging from faint main sequence stars like our own Sun to much brighter RR Lyrae stars, a type of variable star.

The images show individual stars in the Andromeda's disc and a region known as the giant stellar stream, a large structure which extends out from the disc thought to be a remnant of a smaller galaxy that was absorbed by the Andromeda Galaxy in the past.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency.

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