Cannibalistic Galaxy With a Powerful Heart |
Observations by two of the European Space Agency’s space observatories have provided a multi-wavelength view of the mysterious galaxy Centaurus A.
The new images, from the Herschel Space Observatory and the XMM-Newton x-ray satellite, are revealing further hints about its cannibalistic past and energetic processes going on in its core.
At a distance of around 12 million light years, Centaurus A is the closest large elliptical galaxy to our own Milky Way. It has been marked as unusual since shortly after its discovery in the 19th century due to a thick lane of dust across its centre — an unusual feature for an elliptical galaxy. But it wasn’t until a century later that the galaxy’s true nature was revealed.
Emanating from its core are two massive jets of material streaming from a massive black hole in the heart of Centaurus A. When observed by radio telescopes, the jets stretch for up to a million light years, though the Herschel and XMM-Newton results focus on the inner regions.
“Centaurus A is the closest example of a galaxy to us with massive jets from its central black hole,” explained Prof Christine Wilson of McMaster University, Canada, who is leading the study of Centaurus A with Herschel. “Observations with Herschel, XMM-Newton and telescopes at many other wavelengths allow us to study their effects on the galaxy and its surroundings.” continue reading
I can relate.