An Active Centre

This swirling mass of celestial gas, dust, and stars is a moderately luminous spiral galaxy named ESO 021-G004, located just under 130 million light-years away. 

This galaxy has something known as an active galactic nucleus. While this phrase sounds complex, this simply means that astronomers measure a lot of radiation at all wavelengths coming from the centre of the galaxy. This radiation is generated by material falling inwards into the very central region of ESO 021-G004, and meeting the behemoth lurking there — a supermassive black hole. As material falls towards this black hole it is dragged into orbit as part of an accretion disc; it becomes superheated as it swirls around and around, emitting characteristic high-energy radiation until it is eventually devoured.

The data comprising this image were gathered by the Wide Field Camera 3 aboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Rosario et al.

About the Image

Id:potw1951a
Type:Observation
Release date:23 December 2019, 06:00
Size:3553 x 3472 px

About the Object

Name:ESO 021-G004
Type:Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Spiral
Distance:130 million light years
Constellation:Chamaeleon
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
2.5 MB
Screensize JPEG
174.1 KB

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Coordinates

Position (RA):13 32 39.59
Position (Dec):-77° 50' 40.34"
Field of view:2.35 x 2.29 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 59.1° right of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
V
606 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Infrared
H
1.6 μm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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