Thursday, April 19, 2012
Infrared and X-ray observations from two space telescopes have been combined to create a unique look at violent events within the giant galaxy Centaurus A. The observations strengthen the view that the galaxy may have been created by the cataclysmic collision of two older galaxies.
The infrared light was captured by the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory, a mission with important NASA contributions. The X-ray observations were made by the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton space telescope.
Centaurus A is the closest giant elliptical galaxy to Earth, at a distance of around 12 million light-years. It stands out because it harbors a massive black hole at its core and emits intense blasts of radio waves.
While previous images taken in visible light hinted at the complex inner structure in Centaurus A, combining the output of two orbiting observatories working at almost opposite ends of the electromagnetic spectrum has revealed the unusual structure in much greater detail.
The galaxy was observed by astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1847 during his survey of the southern skies. Now, more than 160 years later, the observatory bearing his family name has played a unique role in uncovering some of its secrets.
With the Herschel observatory, the giant black scar of obscuring dust crossing the center of Centaurus A all but disappears when viewed at long infrared wavelengths. The images show the flattened inner disk of a spiral galaxy, the shape of which scientists believe is due to a collision with an elliptical galaxy during a past epoch.
The Herschel data also uncover evidence for intense star birth toward the center of the galaxy, along with two jets emanating from the galaxy's core -- one of them 15,000 light-years long. Newly discovered clouds co-aligned with the jets can also be seen in Herschel's view.
The XMM-Newton X-ray observatory recorded the high-energy glow from one of the jets, extending more than 12,000 light-years away from the galaxy's bright nucleus. XMM-Newton's view shows not only the way that the jet interacts with the surrounding interstellar matter, but also the galaxy's intensely active nucleus, and its large gaseous halo.
The jets seen by both satellites are evidence of the supermassive black hole --10 million times the mass of our sun -- at the center of the galaxy.
For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/herschel/news/herschel20120404.html
0 comments to "Dark Heart of a Cosmic Collision"
X-24B Precision Landings Proved That Shuttle Could Land Unpowered NASA research pilot John Manke worked through his prelaunch checklist wh...
Even though there are many advancement in technology, keeping foods fresher in space for a long period has been impossible. Research has b...
The mars rock touches the NASA curiosity this time it touches the more different from before Tasks. The mars rock is looks like some odd...
Though the sun's brightness was once thought to be constant, NASA has launched a series of satellite instruments that have helpe...
Leaner, greener flying machines for the year 2025 are on the drawing boards of three industry teams under contract to the NASA Aeronautics ...
NASA technologists will get a opportunity next summer time to experience the good old days when Organization technical engineers would conn...
Images from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) reveal an old star in the throes of a fiery outburst, spraying the cosm...
Tornado tracks from last week's powerful tornado outbreak are visible in data from NASA 's Aqua satellite and the Landsat satellite...
Himalaya made its successful debut in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Oct. 5, taking the stage as the third global node in the SERVIR Regional Visualiz...