X-ray, optical and radio image of the Teacup galaxy
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of Cambridge/G. Lansbury et al; optical: NASA/STScI/W. Keel et al; radio: NRAO/VLA

Tempest in a Teacup

For more than a decade, a large army of citizen scientists have been scanning the Universe to classify galaxies and to spot any cosmic weirdness in that exists in the Galaxy Zoo. Perhaps the most famous is Hanny's Voorwerp, a strange glowing blob discovered by Hanny van Arkel, a Dutch schoolteacher. This odd object was eventually identified by astronomers as a nebula of ionized gas produced by a transient outburst of radiation from a supermassive black hole in a nearby galaxy. The multi-wavelength image above shows another unusual object, the so-called "Teacup Galaxy". The Teacup gets its name due to the prominent loop of bright gas which forms the "handle" of the teacup. New observations with the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the XMM-Newton X-ray telescope have helped astronomers themselves get a handle on the Teacup. The X-ray images reveal a supermassive, actively feeding black hole hidden at the center of the galaxy, and that the loop itself glows brightly in X-rays. These data suggest that the handle of the Teacup is a storm of hot, ionized gas powered by the wind coming off the supermassive black hole's accretion disk. Unexpectedly, this seems to be similar to the way powerful particle jets produce bubbles around other active galaxies on even larger scales. Take a walk through the galaxy zoo yourself, and see what strange surprising creatures lurk within.
Published: April 29, 2019

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Monday, 06-May-2019 16:18:03 EDT