Mental Floss

Zooming in on NASA's Giant Andromeda Galaxy Image

Chris Higgins

NASA recently released a gigantic panoramic photo detailing a portion of the Andromeda galaxy. Assembled from 7,398 Hubble Space Telescope images, the panorama shows more than 100 million stars.

The image is gigantic (you can download various versions from HubbleSite), and on first glance it's hard to understand what we're seeing, and just how dense the image is. Various YouTubers have opened the image and zoomed in, showing what's there when you view it close-up. Here are a few of my favorite videos of the new image.

Opening in Photoshop and Hitting "Zoom"

In this simple video, documentary director Adam Cornelius opens the file in Photoshop and simply hits the Zoom button repeatedly, then zooms out. (You can view the percent zoom in the top menu bar; it starts around 5% in an attempt to fit it on the screen.) You must watch this in 1080p HD (use the "gear" icon in the bottom right of the YouTube player) or it will be too blurry to make sense of.

I like this one because it shows the computer struggling to zoom in on such a large file—and at high zoom levels it reveals that every pixel contains some sort of light.

Smooth 4K Resolution Zoom and Pan

In this video, YouTuber "daveachuk" puts the image in context, and produces a smooth zoom and pan around the image. You'll want to set this to 4K (even if you don't have a 4K monitor), because YouTube's video compression blurs the image quite a bit otherwise. This is cool:

Narrated Zoom

HubbleSite released a 45-second zoom video narrating what we're seeing. The video quality isn't great, but the narration helps to explain some of what we're seeing: