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Barred Spiral Andromeda Galaxy

The image above shows the splendid Andromeda Galaxy (M 31), about 2.5 million light years away. Approximately 1 trillion stars shine in this barred spiral galaxy — perhaps 2 1/2 times the number in the Milky Way.

Don’t expect it to look this brilliant through a small telescope or a good pair of binoculars. Color and detail such as this result from long exposure times. M31 is the largest galaxy in the “local group” of more than 50 galaxies — the Milky Way is the second largest member. Image acquired on August 17, 2012.

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