Triangulum Galaxy Reveals Stunning Stellar Symmetry in Amazing Hubble Telescope Views

Time to change your desktop pictures. The Hubble Space Telescope has produced an amazing panoramic image of the Triangulum Galaxy, one of the closest galactic neighbors to Earth.

The famed space observatory captured a swirling spiral of stars in 54 fields of view, capturing data across a span of some 19,000 light-years, Hubble researchers said in a statement. (One light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles, or 10 trillion kilometers.)

The result is a huge picture of Triangulum — also called M33 — that encompasses some 25 million viewable stars. While the image is an art piece in itself, astronomers will use it to learn more about the neighborhood near the Milky Way, which is our own galaxy.

The stunning Triangulum Galaxy as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. (Image credit: M. Durbin/J. Dalcanton/B.F. Williams (University of Washington)/NASA/ESA)

Triangulum is one of several galaxies near the Earth, residing in a zone known as the Local Group. The group includes dozens of members, but is dominated by the big three galaxies of Andromeda (which Hubble also captured in high resolution in 2015), the Milky Way and Triangulum. 

Triangulum's star formation is about 10 times more intense than what was captured in Hubble's picture of Andromeda, so astronomers say the new picture of Triangulum will uncover some of the mechanisms of that star formation, according to the statement. 

"Astronomers think that in the Local Group, Triangulum has been something of an introvert, isolated from frequent interactions with other galaxies while keeping busy producing stars along organized spiral arms. Uncovering the Triangulum Galaxy's story will provide an important point of reference in understanding how galaxies develop over time, and the diverse paths that shape what we see today," researchers said in the statement.

Close-up views of the Triangulum Galaxy. (Image credit: M. Durbin/J. Dalcanton/B.F. Williams (University of Washington)/NASA/ESA)

Hubble is nearing 30 years of operations this year since its launch in 1990, and remains in excellent health. NASA has said operations should continue even beyond the launch of the next-generation James Webb Space Telescope, which is currently scheduled for launch in 2021.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: