A mere 11 million light-years away,
Centaurus A is a giant elliptical
galaxy - the closest active galaxy to Earth.
composite view of the galaxy
from the x-ray (
Centaurus A's central region
is a jumble of gas, dust, and stars
in optical light,
but both radio and x-ray telescopes trace a
remarkable jet of
high-energy particles streaming from the galaxy's core.
power source is a
hole with about 10 million times the mass of the
Sun coincident with the x-ray bright spot at the galaxy's center.
Blasting out from the active galactic nucleus toward the upper left,
the energetic jet extends about 13,000 light-years.
A shorter jet extends from the nucleus in the opposite direction.
Other x-ray bright spots
the field are binary star systems with neutron stars or stellar mass
Active galaxy Centaurus A is likely the result of a
a spiral galaxy some 100 million years ago.