Around the nucleus of M31
Date created: 1986-01-01
In many ways like our own galaxy, M31 is a giant spiral system with extensive but relatively faint spiral arms sprinkled with bright stars and streaked with dust. The centre of this image is dominated by the much brighter inner part of the galaxy into which the dust lanes seem to wind. The bright central region is a gathering of vast numbers faint, old stars. Within the central nucleus, and unseen in this photograph, lies a massive black hole. Seen from a similar distance (about two million light years), the central parts of our own galaxy probably look rather similar.
The photograph is from the Palomar (now Samuel Oschin) Schmidt Telescope in California and was taken in SII (red) light in 1978. The plate has been copied through an unsharp mask to emphasise the dust lanes around the inner part of the galaxy.
Credit: David Malin
© AURA/Bill Schoening