FromQuarkstoQuasars

Astronomy Photo of the Day: 8/4/2014 – NGC 1097

Joshua FilmerAugust 4th 2014
Image Credit: ESO
Image Credit: ESO

This is an almost-true color image of the barred spiral galaxy known as NGC 1097. NGC 1097 is about 45-million light-years from Earth and can be found in the Fornax constellation (in the southern hemisphere).

NGC 1097 is a galaxy class known as a Seyfert galaxy. A trademark of these galaxies is the highly ionized gases emitted from the galactic nuclei in a spectral line.  Seyfert galaxies are a type of active galaxy and from a subclass of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN).

Like most galaxies, NGC 1097 hosts a supermassive black hole at its center. Weighing it at a mass of 100-million times that of our sun, this black hole has a ferocious appetite – gobbling up everything in sight, from passing gasses to the occasional wandering star. For comparison, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way only has the mass of a few million suns.

About the image, per our friends at the ESO: “The images were taken on the night of December 9 to 10, 2004 in the presence of the President of the Republic of Chile, M. Ricardo Lagos. The observing conditions were very good (seeing well below 1 arcsec). The total exposure was 2.25 min in R (652 nanometers (nm); red),, 3 min in V (540 nm; green) and 6 min in B (456 nm; blue). The scale is 0.205 arcsec/pix and the image covers a 7.7 x 6.6 arcmin2 region on the sky.”

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