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spaceSpace and Physics

Hubble Captures the Glowing Heart of a Spiral Galaxy

author

Janet Fang

Staff Writer

clockJul 15 2014, 20:24 UTC
1512 Hubble Captures the Glowing Heart of a Spiral Galaxy
A galaxy with a glowing heart / SA/Hubble & NASA

Here’s a look deep into the heart of a nearby spiral galaxy. 

NGC 1433 is about 32 million light-years from Earth, and it belongs to a type of active galaxy known as Seyfert galaxies. These are known for their very luminous centers, which can be as bright as the entire Milky Way. They account for 10 percent of all galaxies.

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The centers of most galaxies, including ours, are thought to contain a supermassive black hole orbited by a disk of material falling in (called accretion disks). With Seyfert galaxies, ultraviolet light should also emanate from the accretion disk around their central black hole.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, the Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS) will examine a range of properties from 50 nearby galaxies, including NGC 1433. Studying these galaxies in the UV part of the spectrum informs researchers about how gas and dust behave near the black hole. 

Hubble captured this view of NGC 1433 using a mix of UV, visible, and infrared light. 

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Earlier observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) revealed a surprising spiral structure in the molecular gas close to the center of NGC 1433. Astronomers have also found a jet of material flowing away from its black hole and extending for just 150 light-years -- that’s the smallest molecular outflow ever observed in a galaxy beyond our own.

[Via European Space Agency]


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