Coiled Creature of the Night

Spitzer_ssc2009-14a1_1024

spitzer_ssc2009-14a1 July 23rd, 2009

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/The SINGS Team (SSC/Caltech)

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has imaged a wild creature of the dark -- a coiled galaxy with an eye-like object at its center.

The galaxy, called NGC 1097, is located 50 million light-years away. It is spiral-shaped like our Milky Way, with long, spindly arms of stars. The "eye" at the center of the galaxy is actually a monstrous black hole surrounded by a ring of stars. In this color-coded infrared view from Spitzer, the area around the invisible black hole is blue and the ring of stars, white.

The black hole is huge, about 100 million times the mass of our sun, and is feeding off gas and dust along with the occasional unlucky star. Our Milky Way's central black hole is tame in comparison, with a mass of a few million suns.

The ring around the black hole is bursting with new star formation. An inflow of material toward the central bar of the galaxy is causing the ring to light up with new stars.

The galaxy's red spiral arms and the swirling spokes seen between the arms show dust heated by newborn stars. Older populations of stars scattered through the galaxy are blue. The fuzzy blue dot to the left, which appears to fit snuggly between the arms, is a companion galaxy. Astronomers say it is unclear whether this companion poked a hole in the larger galaxy, or just happens to be aligned in a gap in the arms.

Other dots in the picture are either nearby stars in our galaxy, or distant galaxies.

This image was taken during Spitzer's cold mission, before it ran out of liquid coolant. The observatory's warm mission is ongoing, with two infrared channels operating at about 30 Kelvin (minus 406 degrees Fahrenheit).

Infrared light with a wavelength of 3.6 microns is blue; 4.5-micron light is green and 8.0-micron light is red. The contribution from starlight measured at 3.6 microns has been subtracted from the 8.0-micron image to enhance the visibility of the dust features.

Provider: Spitzer Space Telescope

Image Source: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/2685-ssc2009-14a1-The-Coiled-Galaxy-NGC-1097

Curator: Spitzer Space Telescope, Pasadena, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Public Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
NGC 1097 Arp 77
Subject - Local Universe
Galaxy > Type > Barred
Galaxy > Type > Interacting
Galaxy > Activity > Starburst
Galaxy > Activity > AGN > Seyfert
Galaxy > Grouping > Pair

Distance

Universescale2
45,000,000 light years
Spitzer_ssc2009-14a1_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 2h 46m 18.9s
DEC = -30° 16’ 25.7”
Orientation
North is 115.0° CCW
Field of View
12.9 x 12.9 arcminutes
Constellation
Fornax

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Near-IR) 3.6 µm
Arrow_left_green Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Near-IR) 4.5 µm
Arrow_left_red Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Mid-IR) 5.8 µm
Arrow_left_red Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Mid-IR) 8.0 µm
Spectrum_base
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Arrow_top_red
Spitzer_ssc2009-14a1_1280
×
ID
ssc2009-14a1
Subject Category
C.5.1.2   C.5.1.7   C.5.3.3   C.5.3.2.2   C.5.5.1.  
Subject Name
NGC 1097, Arp 77
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/The SINGS Team (SSC/Caltech)
Release Date
2009-07-23
Lightyears
45,000,000
Redshift
0.00424
Reference Url
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/2685-ssc2009-14a1-The-Coiled-Galaxy-NGC-1097
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Spitzer, Spitzer, Spitzer, Spitzer
Instrument
IRAC, IRAC, IRAC, IRAC
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3600, 4500, 5800, 8000
Start Time
Integration Time
1876., 1876., 1876., 1876.
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
41.578658500655749, -30.273806791362663
Reference Dimension
2056, 2056
Reference Pixel
1028, 1028
Scale
-0.00010416666667, 0.00010416666667
Rotation
115.0
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Spitzer Space Telescope
URL
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
1200 E. California Blvd.
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
91125
Country
USA
Rights
Public Domain
Publisher
Spitzer Science Center
Publisher ID
spitzer
Resource ID
ssc2009-14a1.tif
Metadata Date
2019-02-27
Metadata Version
1.1
×

 

Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
45,000,000 light years