Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2007 June 30
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Jumbled Galaxy Centaurus A
Credit & Copyright: Robert Gendler and Stephane Guisard

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.

Tomorrow's picture: good climbing

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