M31 Andromeda Galaxy
DETAILS: Image data acquired by Jim Misti in Arizona using Steve Mazlin's FSQ106N f5 refractor and an SBIG STL-11000m camera. Thanks Jim and Steve for the opportunity to process this excellent data. Processed using MaxIm DL, Photoshop CS and various plug-ins.
COMMENTARY: Andromeda is the most widely known neighbor galaxy to the Milky Way. Even at 2.3 million light-years, it looms large and bright, visable to the naked-eye under dark sky conditions. Andromeda, 130,000 light-years across, is larger than the Milky Way, and is rushing in our direction at 185 miles/sec. Andromeda's bright core rapidly "burns out" when trying to image the galaxy, thus care must be taken to combine many short exposures and use other processing techniques to gain a high-resolution image. Andromeda, along with the Milky Way, are the two largest members of Local Galaxy Group and dominate its neighborhood. A few billion years from now, the Milky Way and Andromeda will likely tidally interact in a collision or near-collision to form a possible star-burst supergalaxy, later maturing into a giant elliptical galaxy.