The spectacular vista is in fact a giant mosaic, formed from 54 separate images created by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.
As the holiday season draws to a close, the Hubble telescope has provided one truly massive parting gift: an immensely detailed photo of one of our galactic neighbors that spans 19,400 light-years across.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the Triangulum Galaxy, a spiral galaxy located at a distance of only three million light-years, inspires the question: "What incredible life forms reside there?" It is the group's third-largest galaxy, but also the smallest spiral galaxy in the group.
Whilst both are spiral galaxies, Messier 33 differs from the Milky Way in many ways. It is the largest high-resolution mosaic image of this galaxy ever assembled, composed of 54 Hubble fields of view spanning an area more than 19,000 light-years across. The Vast spiral galaxy is located just three million light-years from Earth, and can sometimes even be seen by the naked eye as a faint, nebulous object on a clear night. Wide-field view of the Triangulum Galaxy showing the extent of the survey is shown above. The Triangulum Galaxy has at least an order of magnitude less stars than the Milky Way and two orders of magnitude less than Andromeda.
In contrast to the two larger spiral galaxies, Triangulum does not have a bright bulge at its centre - and it also lacks a bar connecting its spiral arms to the centre. If it were oriented with its side facing us we'd have a much harder time picking out the millions of individual stars that make up its spiral shape.
The ESA said that the galaxy contains a huge amount of gas and dust, giving rise to rapid star formation. New stars form at a rate of approximately one solar mass every two years. Hubble's image shows two of the four brightest of these regions in the galaxy: NGC 595 and NGC 604.
In the past, star-formation histories in the Local Group have been measured one galaxy at a time, often using different analysis techniques.