Spiral Galaxy NGC 4945 - about 13 million light-years distant toward the expansive southern constellation Centaurus, NGC 4945 is only about six times farther away than Andromeda, the nearest large spiral galaxy to the Milky Way. Though the galaxy’s central region is largely hidden from view for optical telescopes, X-ray and infrared observations indicate significant high energy emission and star formation in the core of NGC 4945. Its obscured but active nucleus qualifies the gorgeous island universe as a Seyfert galaxy and likely home to a central supermassive black hole.

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Fluorescent and Starry: New Zinger Space Images From Chandra’s X-Ray Archives

You know that moment when you’re flipping through old digital pictures (on your computer or phone or whatever) and you realize there are some pretty awesome ones in there that you should share on social media? The Chandra X-Ray Observatory team also decided to plumb THEIR archive of astrophysical image magic, and came up with several beauties. Such as the one above this text.

Chandra has been in space since July 23, 1999 — yes, that’s well over 14 years ago — and is considered one of NASA’s telescopes under the “Great Observatories” programs. The other telescopes, by the way, are the Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Hubble and Spitzer are also still active today.

Check out more from the new set of images below. There are eight all told, representing a tiny fraction of the unprocessed thousands of images available to the public in the Chandra Source Catalog.

Beautiful nearby spiral galaxy captured “edge – on”.

NGC (New General Catalogue) 4945 is a majestic barred spiral galaxy much like our own, containing large, luminous spiral arms and likely harbouring a supermassive black hole at its core. This stunning image was captured by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) using the Wide Field Imager at the 2.2 metre MPG/ESO telescope in Chile.

Visible in the constellation Centaurus from Planet Earth, this island of suns is a relatively nearby galaxy at a ‘mere’ 13 million light years, some six times further away than the Andromeda galaxy. 

Bearing in mind 1 light year is equal to approximately 9.46 trillion km; this is a distance of approximately 123,000,000,000,000,000,000 km. Of course, in terms of the vastness of the universe this is considered very close, but to us humans it seems like an endless distance through the immense void of intergalactic space. 

Photons of light produced by the stars in this galaxy travel for 13 million years before reaching our planet, allowing us to view the galaxy as it was all that time ago. We are peering back in time 13 million years into the past! As my hero Carl Sagan once said, “Telescopes are time machines.” 

NGC 4945 reveals many young blue star clusters and pink star forming regions throughout its dusty disk. However, because it is seen edge-on from Earth’s perspective, the galactic core is blocked from the view of our optical telescopes. X-ray and infrared observations have provided insights into its hidden core, identifying high energy emissions and star formations. This classifies NGC 4945 as an active spiral galaxy or a “Seyfert galaxy”. 

Active galactic nuclei (AGN) emit high amounts of energy across the electromagnetic spectrum. The energy is believed to be emitted when a supermassive black hole at the core devours material from the galaxy. There are three types of AGN (Quasar, Blazar and Seyfert) although many scientists believe that these phenomenon are actually the same thing, viewed from different positions. 

A Seyfert galaxy differs from other AGN because it is seen to emit low-energy gamma-ray sources when viewed through the dusty disk of the galaxy as opposed to the high-energy gamma-ray of a quasar. This is where NGC 4945 differs from our own Milky Way galaxy which has a much calmer galactic core where the black hole is no longer actively feeding.

- DJG 

Sources - 1, 2

Image credit and copyright - SSRO - South, J. Harvey, S. Mazlin, D. Verschatse, J. Joaquin Perez, (UNC/CTIO/PROMPT)

NGC 4945 in Centaurus

Large spiral galaxy NGC 4945 is seen edge-on near the center of this cosmic galaxy portrait. In fact, NGC 4945 is almost the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Its own dusty disk, young blue star clusters, and pink star forming regions standout in the sharp, colorful telescopic image. About 13 million light-years distant toward the expansive southern constellation Centaurus, NGC 4945 is only about six times farther away than Andromeda, the nearest large spiral galaxy to the Milky Way. Though the galaxy’s central region is largely hidden from view for optical telescopes, X-ray and infrared observations indicate significant high energy emission and star formation in the core of NGC 4945. Its obscured but active nucleus qualifies the gorgeous island universe as a Seyfert galaxy and likely home to a central supermassive black hole. The other prominent galaxy in the field, NGC 4976, is an elliptical galaxy. Left of center, NGC 4976 is much farther away, at a distance of about 35 million light-years, and not physically associated with NGC 4945.

Image credit: Marco Lorenzi/ Warrumbungle Observatory

Spiral galaxy NGC 4945

Seen edge-on, observations of NGC 4945 suggest that this hive of stars is a spiral galaxy much like our own Milky Way, with swirling, luminous arms and a bar-shaped centre. Sites of active star formation, known as HII regions, are seen prominently in the image, appearing bright pink. These resemblances aside, NGC 4945 has a brighter centre that likely harbours a supermassive black hole, which is devouring reams of matter and blasting energy out into space. NGC 4945 is about 13 million light-years away in the constellation of Centaurus (the Centaur).

Image credit: ESO

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by sussexbound (SamanthaLenore)

He hates coming home, hates it. He’s always worse here. He always feels like the life he’s managed to build for himself counts for nothing. He feels ten years old again, standing in this very clearing as Mycroft tells him he is going away to Cambridge, that he will have to go away to school the next year too. He feels all the horror of it as though it was only yesterday: terrified, terrified of everything familiar falling away, changing; terrified of being abandoned, of never really being known again; terrified that whatever it is that makes him who he is, what he is, will always be deeply, horribly, irrevocably wrong; terrified that he will never find home again.

Words: 4945, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

Series: Part 12 of The Homecoming



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