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100 million stars shine in NASA's sharpest ever image

A cropped photo captured with the NASA/ESA Hubble

A cropped photo captured with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and released on Jan. 6, 2015, shows the largest and sharpest image ever taken of the Andromeda galaxy. Photo Credit: Getty Images / J. Dalcanton, University of Washington

What if you could take a photo of a beach and view every grain of sand?

That’s what NASA says the Hubble Space Telescope has done, on a galactic scale.

NASA has released a composite image, the sharpest they’ve ever taken, of a section of the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.5 million light-years away.  One hundred million stars, some of them in thousands of star clusters, are featured.

It’s the first time astronomers have been able to see individual stars inside a galaxy of this sort over an area this big.

The type of work involved in an image of this sort would drive photographers crazy. The image is a composite of 7,398 exposures taken over 411 individual locations and shows a 61,000-light-year-long stretch of the galaxy in its natural visible-light color.

Wow.

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