The winners of the 15th edition of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition have been announced, with Marcel Drechsler, Xavier Strottner, and Yann Sainty taking home the overall prize. Their winning photograph, titled “Andromeda, Unexpected,” reveals a massive plasma arc located next to the Andromeda galaxy (M31), triggering a global scientific collaboration as it may be the largest structure of its kind near our Milky Way.

The Andromeda galaxy, our nearest spiral neighbor, has long been a popular subject in astrophotography. However, what sets this discovery apart is the tremendous size of the arc, spanning approximately 1.5 x 0.45 degrees, and its proximity, just 1.2 degrees from the center of M31, southeast of the main body of the galaxy.

This remarkable image was captured using a Takahashi FSQ-106EDX4 telescope, a Sky-Watcher EQ6 Pro mount, and a ZWO ASI2600MM Pro camera. The photographers expressed their gratitude for the award, thanking for the support and encouragement received. Judge László Francsics praised the image for its contribution to astrophotography.

The title of Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year was awarded to Chinese teenagers Runwei Xu and Binyu Wang for their collaboration on “The Running Chicken Nebula.” Other winners in various categories included Andreas Ettl, James Baguley, Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau, Angel An, and John White, whose image “Black Echo” won the Annie Maunder Award for Visual Innovation by representing the sound of a black hole.

Dr. Ed Bloomer, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, highlighted the genuine discoveries captured in this year’s competition. Over 4,000 entries were received from 64 countries, showcasing the global interest in astrophotography. The winners were awarded a cash prize of £10,000, while finalists and highly commended participants were also recognized.

All the winning photographs, as well as a selection of shortlisted images, will be exhibited at the National Maritime Museum in London starting from September 16. The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to admire the beauty of the universe captured by talented astrophotographers from around the world.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition
Royal Observatory Greenwich