Amateur astronomers Marcel Drechsler, Xavier Strottner and Yann Sainty have beaten thousands of amateur and professional photographers from around the world to win the 2023 Astronomy Photographer of the Year.
The image – Andromeda, Unexpected – was taken near Nancy, France, and captures a huge plasma arc next to the Andromeda galaxy (M31), which is the closest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way.
The plasma arc is the largest such structure nearest to us in the universe and astronomers are now investigating the surprising discovery.
As well as winning the £10 000 top prize, the image will go on display along with other selected pictures from the competition at an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum observatory that opens on Saturday.
The award – now in its 15th year – is run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in association with insurer Liberty Specialty Markets and BBC Sky at Night Magazine.
The competition received over 4000 entries from 64 countries.