Moutmout's blog

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Centaurus A

A galaxy with an active nucleus

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A galaxy with an active nucleus. There are jets above and below the plane of the galaxy.

I wrote this image caption in the context of an application to a science journalism internship.

Centaurus A is an elliptical galaxy surrounded by a dust lane. The dust absorbs part of the emitted light, veiling the center of the galaxy. This peculiar geometry might be caused by a merger with a smaller spiral galaxy. An out of this world sight that is located just 13 million light-years away in the constellation Centaurus.

This image combines visible, X-ray and submillimeter data. The superposition of X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and of submillimeter data from LABOCA on APEX in this image reveals the lobes (in blue) and jets (in orange) emitted by the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. These jets are powered by the infall of material onto the central black hole. This black hole is about 200 million times the mass of our own Sun.

Because of how bright Centaurus A is and how close it is to us, it is a target of choice for scientists trying to understand active galactic nuclei, or AGNs.

Image credit: ESO/WFI (Optical); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimetre); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)

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PhD, astrophysicist. I play with keyboards and telescopes whenever I can.