Astronomy Picture of the Day

Jumbled Galaxy Centaurus A

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Jumbled Galaxy Centaurus A

Explanation: At the center of this sharp skyscape, Centaurus A seems to be a fantastic jumble of old yellow stars, young blue star clusters, and imposing dark dust lanes. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy is apparently the result of a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies. The left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun which lies at the center of Centaurus A. It's likely that such black hole central engines generate the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by Centaurus A and other active galaxies. For an active galaxy Centaurus A is close, a mere 10 million light-years away, and is well-studied by earthbound astronomers. Check out: Venus and Saturn in tonight's evening sky.

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