Hubble revisits tangled NGC 6240

Esahubble_potw1520a_500

esahubble_potw1520a May 18th, 2015

Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and A. Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University)

Not all galaxies are neatly shaped, as this new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of NGC 6240 clearly demonstrates. Hubble previously released an image of this galaxy back in 2008, but the knotted region, shown here in a pinky-red hue at the centre of the galaxies, was only revealed in these observations from Hubbles Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys. NGC 6240 lies 400 million light-years away in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Holder). This galaxy has an elongated shape with branching wisps, loops and tails. This mess of gas, dust and stars bears more than a passing resemblance to a butterfly and, though perhaps less conventionally beautiful, a lobster. This bizarrely-shaped galaxy did not begin its life looking like this; its distorted appearance is a result of a galactic merger that occurred when two galaxies drifted too close to one another. This merger sparked bursts of new star formation and triggered many hot young stars to explode as supernovae. A new supernova was discovered in this galaxy in 2013, named SN 2013dc. It is not visible in this image, but its location is indicated here. At the centre of NGC 6240 an even more interesting phenomenon is taking place. When the two galaxies came together, their central black holes did so too. There are two supermassive black holes within this jumble, spiralling closer and closer to one another. They are currently only some 3000 light-years apart, incredibly close given that the galaxy itself spans 300 000 light-years. This proximity secures their fate as they are now too close to escape each other and will soon form a single immense black hole. Links Images of Hubble

Image Source: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1520a/

Curator: ESA/Hubble, Garching bei München, Germany

Image Use Policy: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
NGC 6240
Subject - Local Universe
Galaxy » Type » Interacting
Esahubble_potw1520a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 16h 52m 59.3s
DEC = 2° 24’ 4.5”
Orientation
North is 74.6° CCW
Field of View
2.9 x 2.9 arcminutes
Constellation
Ophiuchus

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue Hubble Space Telescope (ACS) Optical (B) 435.0 nm
Arrow_left_red Hubble Space Telescope (ACS) Infrared (I) 814.0 nm
Arrow_left_red Hubble Space Telescope (WFC3) Optical (H-Alpha) 680.0 nm
Arrow_left_green Hubble Space Telescope (WFC3) Optical (R) 621.0 nm
Arrow_left_cyan Hubble Space Telescope (WFC3) Optical (B) 467.0 nm
Spectrum_base
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_red
Arrow_top_red
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_cyan
Esahubble_potw1520a_1280
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ID
potw1520a
Subject Category
C.5.1.7  
Subject Name
NGC 6240
Credits
NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and A. Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University)
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1520a/
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Distance Notes
Facility
Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope
Instrument
ACS, ACS, WFC3, WFC3, WFC3
Color Assignment
Blue, Red, Red, Green, Cyan
Band
Optical, Infrared, Optical, Optical, Optical
Bandpass
B, I, H-Alpha, R, B
Central Wavelength
435, 814, 680, 621, 467
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
253.246934799, 2.4012415498
Reference Dimension
3468.0, 3468.0
Reference Pixel
1734.0, 1734.0
Scale
-1.39113257861e-05, 1.39113257861e-05
Rotation
74.640000000000043
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
ESA/Hubble
URL
http://www.spacetelescope.org/
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2
City
Garching bei München
State/Province
Postal Code
D-85748
Country
Germany
Rights
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license
Publisher
ESA/Hubble
Publisher ID
esahubble
Resource ID
potw1520a
Metadata Date
2014-03-25T16:09:13+01:00
Metadata Version
1.1
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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There is no distance meta data in this image.