CENTAURUS A – A STORY OF VIOLENCE
Links & Short Vid Below.
At a cosmically close 12 million light years distant in the southern constellation Centaurus is this massive elliptical galaxy cataloged as NGC 5128 has the unfortunate distinction of producing the strongest radio emissions of any known galaxy. This means that at its center lies a supermassive black hole upwards of 100 million times the mass of our Sun with an insatiable appetite, creating incredible relativistic jets, radio and X-ray emissions as well as a bright nucleus. In fact its radio emissions are so strong that if we could see radio emissions this galaxy would stretch upwards of 20 times the width of the full moon and 200 times larger in area as the main jet fires off approximately 15,000 light years and a shorter counter jet firing in the opposite direction. This is the closest galaxy to earth with an active supermassive black hole powering jets and approximately the 5th brightest galaxy optically in apparent magnitude.
The extremely thick, dark bands of dust and gas that shrouds the core of the galaxy actually contain many stars and ongoing star formation which was probably sparked by the collision of two galaxies millions of years before which transformed this violent star city into the elliptical form we see today.
NOTE: This is a classic case of NASA/ESA and the different telescopes, departments etc. having conflicting information. When researching this object I found many different distances and sizes used in all aspects of this object from how far away it is, to how long to how large the black hole is, to how vast the jets stretch to the point where I ended up somewhat frustrated. It would be one thing if the numbers were close but they’re completely contradictory, especially for a galaxy as close as this. Unfortunately, I find these discrepancies time and time again in my research. I went with the numbers I found most often and provided many links and a video below.
NAME: Centaurus A, NGC5128
WHAT IS IT? : Elliptical Galaxy w’ Massive feeding Black Hole.
HOW BIG IS IT? : Apparent visual size on the night sky is 17 arc minutes. Width is about 100,000 light years across while jets shown in the photo above stretch close to 200,000 light years in total length
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT? : 12 Million Light years
APPARENT MAGNITIUE? : 7.0 Just slightly too dim for naked eye viewing.
WHERE IS It? (General): Southern Hemisphere Constellation Centaurus and part of the M83 Group of Galaxies.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 13h 25m 28s / -43d 01’ 11”.
European Southern Observatory CentaurusA Page: http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso0903a/
NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory Page On Centaurus A: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2008/cena/
NASA Hubble Page For Centaurus A: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/exotic/pr1998014i/
NASA Hubble News Center Page For Centaurus A: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/1998/14/
ESA Hubble Page on Centaurus A: http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1110/
MIND = BLOWN (this is that Centaurus A would look like at night if we could see radio frequency: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110413.html