Astrophoto of the month - June 2021 - Andromeda proximity

Péter Feltóti's capture brings the Andromeda galaxy to an unbelievable proximity

A wonderful and special astrophotography image each month by Hungarian astrophotographers.

A celestial body of historical significance

In the 1920s, Edwin Hubble, the world-famous astronomer, who was the Hubble Space Telescope named after, discovered a variable star in the Andromeda Nebula in simple black-and-white images. Examination of the variable star revealed that it is extremely far from us, and with it the Andromeda Nebula as well. So far away that they can't be part of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Thus, the concept of extragalaxies (galaxies outside the Milky Way) was created by studying one of the closest extragalaxies known as the Andromeda Nebula or later the Andromeda Galaxy. The faint nebula in the telescopes became a milestone in astronomical history.  

The galaxy

The Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31 (M31), is the largest member of the Local Group, which also includes our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Looking at it from afar, we could observe the billion-year orbit of the two galaxies, as they are in gravitational relation to each other. The Triangulum Galaxy (Messier 33) is also involved in this game, and in a few billion years the three spiral galaxies and many companion galaxies will merge into one huge giant. But this event is so far in the future, that it certainly will not be observed by man from Earth. However, we are now in a privileged position, as we have an excellent view of the Andromeda Galaxy from the northern hemisphere. No wonder that every amateur astronomer and astrophotographer tries to capture this stunning object, even in the early stages of their career in astrophotography. Exciting details and characteristic shapes appear even at low magnification. Under good conditions we can even see the brightest part with the naked eye.

Why is it the image of the month?

The image of the month shows us this huge celestial body in a new way. From an unusual proximity we can now take a look at the region of the galaxy’s core, as we have seen in few recordings so far. Péter Feltóti, the author tells us about his experiences:

I’ve photographed this huge galaxy - an object of five full moons of apparent size - before. Back then the goal was to be able to present our galactic neighbor in its full extent. But the challenges do not end here, and now I tried to capture what happens around the center of this massive celestial body. The core region that fills the entire field of view is a very small part of the galaxy. The yellow central bulge and the billions of stars, dust and gas swirl around the center of the celestial body and the invisible supermassive black hole hidden in it. The latter, of course, is not visible in the picture. 

You can take a look at the image on the creators website: