One of the world’s most prestigious competitions for space photos has today revealed its annual winners—and the overall winner includes an important scientific discovery.
The overall winner Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest was revealed to be an image by French and German amateur astronomers that includes the surprising discovery of a huge plasma arc next to the Andromeda Galaxy. It’s thought to be the remnants of a supernova or a planetary nebula.
Andromeda is the closest giant spiral galaxy to the Milky Way—and headed towards it, though the collision will occur in about four to six billion years.
In “Andromeda, Unexpected” (below)—which was taken by Marcel Drechsler, Xavier Strottner and Yann Sainty—it’s hard to miss the huge plasma arc, which covers 1.5º of the night sky and is thought to be the largest such structure close to us.
It’s since been named the Strottner-Drechsler-Sainty Object 1 (SDSO-1), according to Sky & Telescope.
“‘This astrophoto is as spectacular as [it is] valuable,” said László Francsics, an astrophotographer and judge of the competition. “It not only presents Andromeda in a new way, but also raises the quality of astrophotography to a higher level.”
Run by Royal Observatory Greenwich supported by Liberty Specialty Markets and in association with BBC Sky at Night Magazine, the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition this year had over 4,000 entries from 64 countries.
All the winning and highly commended images will be on display at the National Maritime Museum in London from Saturday, September 16, 2023.
Here are the pick of the winning images:
Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: ‘The Running Chicken Nebula’
Won by two 14 year old boys from China, Runwei Xu and Binyu Wang, which was described by judge and legendary astrophotographer Yuri Beletsky as a “strikingly beautiful picture.”
Aurorae: ‘Circle of Light’
This image by Andreas Ettl shows the Northern Lights reflected on Skagsanden beach, Norway.
Stars And Nebulae: ‘The Dark Wolf – Fenrir’
This image from James Baguley shows a molecular cloud in the form of a wolf.
Our Sun: ‘A Sun Question’
This image from Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau captures a huge filament in the shape of a question mark.
Skyscapes: ‘Grand Cosmic Fireworks’
Angel An’s winning photograph is of the extremely rare phenomenon of atmospheric luminescence.
Annie Maunder Prize for Image Innovation: ‘Black Echo’
John White’s Black Echo used audio source material from NASA’s Chandra Sonification Project to visually capture the sound of the black hole at the center of the Perseus Galaxy.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.