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.
2000 December 4
Explanation: Powerful forces are at play in the nearby Circinus Galaxy. Hot gas, coloured pink, is being ejected out of the spiral galaxy from the central region. Much of Circinus' tumultuous gas, however, is concentrated in two rings. The outer ring, located about 700 light-years from the centre, appears mostly red and is home to tremendous bursts of star formation. A previously unseen inner ring, inside the green disk above, is visible only 130 light years from the centre on this recently released, representative colour image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. At the very centre is an active galactic nucleus, where matter glows brightly before likely spiraling into a massive black hole. Although only 15 million light years distant, the Circinus Galaxy went unnoticed until 25 years ago because it is so obscured by material in the plane of our own Galaxy. The galaxy can be seen with a small telescope, however, in the constellation of Circinus.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.