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This awesome face-on galaxy is known as NGC 1097 or Caldwell 67. This barred-spiral galaxy is located about 45-million light-years away, and if you’re in the southern hemisphere, you can find it in the constellation Fornax.

NGC 1097 is also classified as a Seyfert galaxy. The trademark of this galaxy class is the highly ionized gasses that are emitted from the galactic nucleus – specifically astronomers will see bright hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, and oxygen emission lines. Scientists believe this is due to the effects of Doppler broadening, which basically means the atoms and or molecules present are moving so fast that the Doppler Effect occurs and the spectral lines broaden. This broadening effect probably originates with the supermassive black hole at the center of this galaxy class...

Which brings us back to NGC 1097.

The supermassive black hole in this galaxy is, well, SUPER massive. A behemoth hundreds of millions of times the mass of our sun sits snugly in the center of NGC 1097. In contrast, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way is only a few million solar masses. Another point where the two black holes differ are their appetite. NGC 1097’s central black hole is extremely active, devouring anything that it can. This soon-to-be-doomed matter flairs and glows brightly, eventually creating a drain-like spiraling effect. This death-spiral - as seen in the image as a bright circle - is about 5,000 light-years across.


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