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Space Pictures / The Andromeda Galaxy (Original)

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Title: M31, The Andromeda Galaxy

Source: NASA

Information: The Andromeda Galaxy is the largest, and closest spiral in the local group of Galaxies. It is about 180,000 light years across, making it substantially larger than our own Milky Way, which is 100,000 light years across. M31 is about 2.2 million light years from the Milky Way. In the night sky, with a pair of binoculars, it appears to be a faint glowing cloud that is about four widths of the moon long by one wide. The true nature of this galaxy is not apparent until it is photographed with a long exposure. M31 appears to have a cigar shape, which is due to the angle at which it is inclined toward us. It is actually a regularly shaped round spiral. The Andromeda Galaxy is close enough to our own galaxy that telescopes on Earth can resolve individual stars. By observing phenomenon such as novae in the Andromeda, astronomers can learn about the mechanics of such events in our own galaxy.