Using the Dark Energy Camera (DEC) on the Víctor M. Blanco 4-m Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, astronomers have obtained a new image of the giant galaxy Centaurus A.
Centaurus A is a giant galaxy located in the constellation of Centaurus.
Also known as NGC 5128, LEDA 46957, ESO 270-9, and Caldwell 7, it is one of the brightest objects in the southern hemisphere night sky.
Centaurus A was discovered on April 29, 1826 by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop.
At a distance of 13 million light-years, it is the closest active galactic nucleus to us.
Astronomers theorize that what was originally an elliptical galaxy collided with a relatively smaller spiral galaxy, giving it the peculiar shape we see now.
“The new image provides a spectacular view of the luminous glow of stars and the dark tendrils of dust that hide the bright center of Centaurus A,” said Dr. Monika Soraisam from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and colleagues.
“This dust is the result of a past galactic collision, in which a giant elliptical galaxy merged with a smaller spiral galaxy.”
“As well as large amounts of gas and dust, Centaurus A’s dust lane contains widespread star formation, as indicated by the red clouds of hydrogen and by the large number of faint blue stars visible at each end of the dust lane.”
Since its discovery in 1826, astronomers have studied Centaurus A exhaustively with many different kinds of telescopes, revealing a variety of intriguing features.
Radio telescopes revealed a colossal jet of matter spewing outward from the heart of the galaxy.
This jet is accelerated to almost half the speed of light by a supermassive black hole at the center of Centaurus A, and its bright emissions at radio wavelengths make this galaxy one of the most prominent radio sources in the night sky.
In fact, in July 2021, the Event Horizon Telescope produced an image of a jet launching from the supermassive black hole in Centaurus A.