Messier 32

Messier 32 is a satellite galaxy of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31).


2.5 million light-years

Apparent Magnitude




object type

Elliptical Galaxy

This image of a portion of the elliptical galaxy M32 was captured by the Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), with a denser collection of stars in the upper-left that gradually become more spread out throughout the outer parts of the galaxy in the rest of the picture.
NASA, ESA, A. Crotts (Columbia University), W. Freedman (University of Chicago), and J. Westphal (California Institute of Technology); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Countless stars, from the compact core to the less dense outskirts of M32, are packed into this single Hubble image. An elliptical galaxy, M32 is located 2.5 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Andromeda. It is one of two satellite galaxies orbiting M31, the Andromeda galaxy, that also belong to the Messier catalog. (The other is M110.)

M32 inset 01
This ground-based image from the Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) shows elliptical galaxy M32, with the white outline highlighting the portion of the galaxy captured by ACS.
Ground-based image: Digitized Sky Survey; ACS image: NASA, ESA, A. Crotts (Columbia University), and W. Freedman (University of Chicago); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

M32 was discovered by the French astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil in 1749 and is best observed in November. The galaxy has an apparent magnitude of 8.1, and can be seen using a medium-sized telescope. It is relatively easy to locate, as it falls in the same field of view as M31, but a large telescope is needed to resolve any detail beyond a spot of light.

This Hubble image of a portion of M32 shows stars crowded in the galaxy's core at upper left, while stars in the outer parts of the galaxy fill the rest of the view. The image combines visible and infrared observations taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. The galaxy has been used to study gravitational microlensing ― a phenomenon in which the gravity of stars bends light as the stars pass one another ― and variable stars that can be used to measure astronomical distances.

For more information about Hubble’s observations of M32, see:

This image of a large part of M32 was created from ultraviolet observations with Hubble and provides evidence that the ultraviolet light comes from a population of extremely hot, helium-burning stars at a late stage in their lives. Unlike the Sun, which burns hydrogen into helium, these old stars exhausted their central hydrogen long ago and now burn helium into heavier elements.
NASA and Thomas M. Brown, Charles W. Bowers, Randy A. Kimble, Allen V. Sweigart (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) and Henry C. Ferguson (Space Telescope Science Institute)
locator star chart for M32
This star chart for M32 represents the view from mid-northern latitudes for the given month and time.
Image courtesy of Stellarium

Explore Hubble's Messier Catalog

The following pages contain some of Hubble’s best images of Messier objects.

Bright green, orange, and yellow tendrils intertwined within this egg shaped nebula.

Messier 1 (The Crab Nebula)

Better known as the Crab Nebula, Charles Messier originally mistook Messier 1 for Halley’s Comet, which inspired him to create…

A Hubble image of a ball of thousands of stars

Messier 2

Hubble's image of Messier 2 is comprised of visible and infrared wavelengths of light.

Hubble view of M3 - a ball of thousands of stars.

Messier 3

Messier 3 holds more than 500,000 stars.