Centaurus A X-ray, optical and radio composite
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al; Radio: NSF/VLA/Univ.Hertfordshire/M.Hardcastle; Optical: ESO/VLT/ISAAC/M.Rejkuba et al.

Jet Power

Centaurus A (Cen A for short) is one of the most famous of active galaxies. One reason is that it's a particularly untidy elliptical galaxy. Ellipticals usually don't contain much dust, and are rather boring as galaxies go. But Cen A is marked by thick lanes of dust striping its middle. Part of the reason for these weird dust lanes is that Cen A has swallowed a spiral galaxy, a particularly slovenly type full of messy dust clouds and unstable stars. Lots of strange stuff is happening with Cen A, as the image above shows. This image is a composite of optical (showing the galaxy and its dust lanes) and radio (showing the large jet booming into space and forming galaxy-sized radio lobes) images with a deep Chandra X-ray observation. The X-ray image highlights the high energy emission from a jet extending for 13,000 light years. The origin of the jet? A supermassive black hole lurking hidden behind the dust.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:11:20 EDT

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