FromQuarkstoQuasars

Astronomy Photo of the Day: 4/20/14 – NGC 1084

 

NGC 1084
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and S. Smartt (Queen’s University Belfast), Acknowledgement: Brian Campbell (Spacetelescope.org)

This galaxy, NGC 1084, is a picture of perfection. This newly-released remix not only features a close-up look at the galaxy’s monstrous central core, which is home to a supermassive black hole that could likely consume our entire solar system, but we can also see another feature that sets this galaxy apart from our own: its distinct lack of a central bar.

What is less clear, however, from this nearly face-on vantage point, is the number of supernovae this galaxy spits out. Over the last 50 years, astronomers have witnessed as many as 6 of these violent events going on within the confines of the galaxy’s loose spiral arms. The last of which was spotted back in 2012. The number may seem inconsequential, but remember that supernovae are pretty rare.  Astronomers merely expect to see one per galaxy each century.

Such activity could indicate that the galaxy underwent a minor collision with an unseen galaxy in its recent past, or perhaps it devoured a neighboring satellite galaxy. Either way, when the events took place, they kickstarted a new era in star formation, which ends in the most massive stars of the new bunch vomiting their guts back up into space in supernova blasts.

See a zoomable, interactive version of this image here, or download a high-res version here.

The Best & Most Beautiful Spiral Galaxies:

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