Thursday, October 15, 2009

NGC 4945: The Milky Way’s not-so-distant Cousin

NGC 4945: The Milky Way’s not-so-distant Cousin (9/2/09)
ESO has released a striking new image of a nearby galaxy that many astronomers think closely resembles our own Milky Way. Though the galaxy is seen edge-on, observations of NGC 4945 suggest that this hive of stars is a spiral galaxy much like our own, with swirling, luminous arms and a bar-shaped central region. These resemblances aside, NGC 4945 has a brighter centre that likely harbours a supermassive black hole, which is devouring reams of matter and blasting energy out into space. ...

Scientists classify NGC 4945 as a Seyfert galaxy after the American astronomer Carl K. Seyfert, who wrote a study in 1943 describing the odd light signatures emanating from some galactic cores. Since then, astronomers have come to suspect that supermassive black holes cause the turmoil in the centre of Seyfert galaxies. Black holes gravitationally draw gas and dust into them, accelerating and heating this attracted matter until it emits high-energy radiation, including X-rays and ultraviolet light.




NGC 4945 – click for 1280×1280 image


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