Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

January 6, 1996
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Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy M32
Credit: 1.1 Meter Hall Telescope, Lowell Observatory, Bill Keel (U. Alabama)

Explanation: Being the largest galaxy around can sometimes make you popular. Pictured is M31's companion galaxy M32. M31, the Andromeda galaxy, is the largest galaxy in our Local Group of galaxies - even our tremendous Milky Way Galaxy is smaller. Little M32 is visible in most pictures of M31 - it is the small circular spot north of M31's center. M32 is a dwarf elliptical galaxy. Elliptical galaxies have little or no measurable gas or dust - they are composed completely of stars and typically appear more red than spiral galaxies. Elliptical galaxies do not have disks - they generally have oblong shapes and therefore show elliptical profiles on the sky.

Tomorrow's picture: Mercury Astronauts and a Redstone

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