The Many Infrared 'Personalities' of the Sculptor Galaxy

Wise_wise2010-036e_500

WISE_WISE2010-036E October 13th, 2010

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

This image of the Sculptor Galaxy from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows the galaxy's active side. Infant stars are heating up their dusty cocoons, particularly in the galaxy's core, making the Sculptor galaxy burst with infrared light. This light -- color-coded red in this view -- was captured using WISE's longest-wavelength, 22-micron detector. The dusty burst of stars is so intense in the core that it generates diffraction spikes. Diffraction spikes are telescope artifacts normally seen only around very bright stars.

The Sculptor galaxy, or NGC 253, was discovered in 1783 by Caroline Herschel, a sister and collaborator of the discoverer of infrared light, Sir William Herschel. It was named after the constellation in which it is found, and is part of a cluster of galaxies known as the Sculptor group. The Sculptor galaxy can be seen by observers in the southern hemisphere with a pair of good binoculars.

NGC 253 is an active galaxy, which means that a significant fraction of its energy output does not come from normal populations of stars within the galaxy. The extraordinarily high amount of star formation occurring in the nucleus of this galaxy has led astronomers to classify it as a "starburst" galaxy. At a distance of approximately 10.5 million light-years away, NGC 253 is the closest starburst galaxy to our Milky Way Galaxy. However, the starburst alone cannot explain all the activity observed in the nucleus. One strong possibility is that a giant black hole lurks at the heart of it all, similar to the one that lies at the center of the Milky Way.

In late September of this year, after surveying the sky about one-and-a-half times, WISE exhausted its supply of the frozen coolant needed to chill the longest-wavelength detectors -- the 12- and 22-micron channels. The satellite is continuing to survey the sky with its two remaining detectors, focusing primarily on asteroids and comets. Read more about this survey, called the NEOWISE Post-Cryogenic mission, at jpl.nasa.gov.

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2010-036E

Curator: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Berkeley, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Sculptor Galaxy NGC 253
Subject - Local Universe
Galaxy » Type » Spiral
Galaxy » Type » Barred
Galaxy » Activity » Starburst

Distance

Universescale2
11,400,000 light years
Wise_wise2010-036e_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 0h 47m 33.6s
DEC = -25° 17’ 20.6”
Orientation
North is 26.3° CCW
Field of View
36.7 x 22.9 arcminutes
Constellation
Sculptor

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_red WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 22.0 µm
Arrow_left_ WISE -
Arrow_left_ WISE -
Arrow_left_ WISE -
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_red
Wise_wise2010-036e_1280
×
ID
WISE2010-036E
Subject Category
C.5.1.1.   C.5.1.2.   C.5.3.3.  
Subject Name
Sculptor Galaxy, NGC 253
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Lightyears
11,400,000
Redshift
0.000811
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2010-036E
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
WISE, WISE, WISE, WISE
Instrument
Color Assignment
Red
Band
Infrared
Bandpass
Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
22000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
11.8901361, -25.2890457
Reference Dimension
1600, 1000
Reference Pixel
802, 495
Scale
-3.81944439100000e-04, 3.81944439100000e-04
Rotation
26.26356316
Coordinate System Projection:
SIN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
URL
http://wise.astro.ucla.edu
Name
Email
outreach@ssl.berkeley.edu
Telephone
Address
7 Gauss Way
City
Berkeley
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
94720
Country
USA
Rights
Pulic Domain
Publisher
Publisher ID
WISE
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/WISE/WISE2010-036E
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2011-08-05
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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Universescalefull
11,400,000 light years