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An Active Center
RA 13h 32m 39.59s Dec -77° 50' 40.34"
130 million light years
1.58 x 0.727 arcmin
2.35 x 2.29 arcminutes
North is 59.1° right of vertical
ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Rosario et al.
December 23, 2019
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This swirling mass of celestial gas, dust, and stars is a moderately luminous spiral galaxy named ESO 021-G004, located just under 130 million light-years away.
This galaxy has something known as an active galactic nucleus. While this phrase sounds complex, this simply means that astronomers measure a lot of radiation at all wavelengths coming from the center of the galaxy. This radiation is generated by material falling inwards into the very central region of ESO 021-G004, and meeting the behemoth lurking there - a supermassive black hole. As material falls towards this black hole it is dragged into orbit as part of an accretion disc; it becomes superheated as it swirls around and around, emitting characteristic high-energy radiation until it is eventually devoured.
data comprising this image were gathered by the Wide Field Camera 3 aboard
the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.