Click to enlargeSpitzer Centaurus A Galaxy Photo

Buy this Centaurus A Galaxy photo. High quality Spitzer space picture, poster, slide, or Duratrans backlit transparency. NASA photograph PIA06007. Wide variety of sizes.
Click to see selection as Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) - March 4, 2006


This image taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows in unprecedented detail the galaxy Centaurus A's last big meal: a spiral galaxy seemingly twisted into a parallelogram-shaped structure of dust. Spitzer's ability to both see dust and see through it allowed the telescope to peer into the center of Centaurus A and capture this galactic remnant as never before.

An elliptical galaxy located 11 million light-years from Earth, Centaurus A is one of the brightest sources of radio waves in the sky. These radio waves indicate the presence of a supermassive black hole, which may be "feeding" off the leftover galactic meal.

A high-speed jet of gas can be seen shooting above the plane of the galaxy (the faint, fuzzy feature pointing from the center toward the upper left). Jets are a common feature of galaxies, and this one is probably receiving an extra boost from the galactic remnant.

Scientists have created a model that explains how such a strangely geometric structure could arise. In this model, a spiral galaxy falls into an elliptical galaxy, becoming warped and twisted in the process. The folds in the warped disc create the parallelogram-shaped illusion.

Addition Date: June 1, 2004
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


PIA06007
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