Sculptor Galaxy Shines with X-rays

Nustar_nustar130611a_500

nustar_nustar130611a June 11th, 2013

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHU

The Sculptor galaxy is seen in a new light, in this composite image from NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Visible data from the European Space Observatory show the backbone of the galaxy made up of stars, while NuSTAR data, which appear as colored blobs, show high-energy X-rays. The NuSTAR observations are the sharpest ever taken of this galaxy in high-energy X-rays.

The findings, when combined with those from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, suggest that the supermassive black hole at the center of the Sculptor galaxy, also known as NGC 253, has dozed off, or gone inactive, sometime in the past decade. Future observations from both telescopes should help address this mystery.

The NuSTAR data also reveals a flaring source of high-energy X-rays, called an ultraluminous X-ray source, or ULX. This object, which appears as a blue spot near the hotter, central region of the galaxy, is either a black hole or a dense, dead star, called a neutron star, feeding off a partner star. The flare is thought to be the result of a change in the object's feeding patterns.

The other orange and reddish points are likely additional X-ray-generating pairs of stars located throughout the galaxy.

In this image, red shows low-energy X-ray radiation (3 to 7 kiloelectron volts), green is medium energy (7 to 10 kiloelectron volts), and blue is high energy (10 to 20 kiloelectron volts).

Image Source: /image/nustar/nustar130611a

Curator: NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, Pasadena, CA

Image Use Policy: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/

Image Details

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

Distance

Universescale2
11,500,000 light years
Nustar_nustar130611a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 0h 47m 33.5s
DEC = -25° 17’ 4.6”
Orientation
North is 0.1° CW
Field of View
32.9 x 18.5 arcminutes
Constellation
Sculptor

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_red NuSTAR X-ray 248.4 pm
Arrow_left_green NuSTAR X-ray 138.0 pm
Arrow_left_blue NuSTAR X-ray 69.0 pm
Arrow_left_grayscale MPG/ESO 2.2M (WFI) Optical 550.0 nm
Spectrum_xray1w
Arrow_top_red
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_grayscale
Nustar_nustar130611a_1280
×
ID
nustar130611a
Subject Category
C.5.1.1   C.5.1.2  
Subject Name
Sculptor Galaxy, Silver Dollar Galaxy, NGC 253
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHU
Lightyears
11,500,000
Redshift
0.000811
Reference Url
/image/nustar/nustar130611a
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
NuSTAR, NuSTAR, NuSTAR, MPG/ESO 2.2M
Instrument
-, -, -, WFI
Color Assignment
Red, Green, Blue, Grayscale
Band
X-ray, X-ray, X-ray, Optical
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
0.2484, 0.138, 0.069, 550
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
Reference Value
11.8895886, -25.2846068
Reference Dimension
6620.0, 3724.0
Reference Pixel
3311.0, 1863.0
Scale
-8.28119e-05, 8.28119e-05
Rotation
-0.05
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array
URL
http://www.nustar.caltech.edu
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
Country
Rights
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/
Publisher
Publisher ID
nustar
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/nustar/nustar130611a
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2014-07-16 17:37:22 -0700
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

×
Universescalefull
11,500,000 light years