A Super Special Galaxy

Wise_wise2011-012_500

WISE_WISE2011-012 March 24th, 2011

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Theres something special going on in the nearby Circinus galaxy, as revealed by this image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The Circinus galaxy is located in the constellation of Circinus and is obscured by the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy. At a distance of 14 million light-years, it is one of the nearest galaxies, yet is largely unexplored because the Milky Way veils it. There are so many stars and so much dust from our own galaxy obscuring the Circinus galaxy. In fact, this galaxy has two extended spiral arms, which look like a great green S in this WISE image. These arms had not been seen until NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and WISE observed them. The infrared wavelengths of light detected by these observatories pierce through the foreground dust of the Milky Way, revealing aspects of of the special nature of the Circinus galaxy.

At the center of the S," the core of the Circinus galaxy glows intensely in longer wavelengths of light (colored red in this WISE image). Circinus is what astronomers call an active galaxy, meaning a large fraction of its luminosity is coming from the core of the galaxy. All that luminous energy is believed to come from two sources. The first is probably a ring of star formation surrounding the core. Some recent gravitational disturbance induced the material around the core to begin collapsing and forming stars at an accelerated rate. Star formation makes a lot of dust, which is then heated and glows in infrared light. The other source is an active galactic nucleus, which is a supermassive black hole surrounded by a disk of matter that is slowly falling into the hole. That disk of matter contains a great deal of gas and dust. The material nearest the black hole is so hot that it produces intense X-ray and ultraviolet light. Dust further out in the disk absorbs much of that light, heating the dust and making it also glow in the infrared. Circinus contains the closest active galaxy nucleus to us.

This image was made from observations by all four infrared detectors aboard WISE. Blue and cyan (blue-green) represent infrared light at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns, which is primarily light from stars. Green and red represent light at 12 and 22 microns, which is primarily light emitted from warm dust.

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2011-012

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

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Circinus Galaxy ESO 97-G13
Subject - Local Universe
Galaxy » Type » Spiral
Galaxy » Activity » AGN » Seyfert

Distance

Universescale2
13,000,000 light years
Wise_wise2011-012_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 14h 13m 10.1s
DEC = -65° 20’ 21.4”
Orientation
North is up
Field of View
27.6 x 27.6 arcminutes
Constellation
Circinus

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 3.4 µm
Arrow_left_cyan WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 4.6 µm
Arrow_left_green WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 12.0 µm
Arrow_left_red WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 22.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_cyan
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Wise_wise2011-012_1280
×
ID
WISE2011-012
Subject Category
C.5.1.1.   C.5.3.2.2.  
Subject Name
Circinus Galaxy, ESO 97-G13
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Lightyears
13,000,000
Redshift
0.001448
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2011-012
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
WISE, WISE, WISE, WISE
Instrument
Color Assignment
Blue, Cyan, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3400, 4600, 12000, 22000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
213.2921107, -65.3392836
Reference Dimension
1200.0, 1200.0
Reference Pixel
601.0, 601.0
Scale
-0.000382642, 0.00038264194
Rotation
0
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
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/WISE2011-012
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
13,000,000 light years