STAR POWER

This is the most crystal-clear image of space ever taken

The vastness of space is so expansive, so inconceivable, that frankly, it makes humanity’s lot in the universe seem pretty tiny and pointless.

Amplifying that sense of insignificance, NASA has released its largest, most detailed image of space ever. Taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, it captures the Andromeda Galaxy, one of our nearest galactic neighbors at a mere 2.5 million light years away.

The full size image is about 60,000 by 22,000 pixels, a total of 1.5 billion pixels. That’s about 1,000 times the resolution of regular high-definition. It is detailed enough that the telescope can resolve individual stars in the 61,000 light year-long slice of galaxy captured by the image—”like photographing a beach and resolving individual grains of sand,” according to NASA. All in all, there are over 100 million stars in the photo.

And indeed, zooming in on the image does make it look like a close-up of a beach:

Screenshot 2015-01-22 10.03.57
(NASA)

The best way to explore the image is with this zoom tool. You can also download the image—downsized and compressed, or in full 4.3 GB splendor.

And this is a great video that zooms and pans over the image. You can watch it in up to 4K HD:

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