Field of Science


Spitzer Space Telescope Images Galaxy NGC 1097

NGC 1097
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/The SINGS Team (SSC/Caltech)
A few of the interesting bits from the press release:

The galaxy, called NGC 1097, is located 50 million light-years away. It is spiral-shaped like our Milky Way, with long, spindly arms of stars. The "eye" at the center of the galaxy is actually a monstrous black hole surrounded by a ring of stars. In this color-coded infrared view from Spitzer, the area around the invisible black hole is blue and the ring of stars, white.

The black hole is huge, about 100 million times the mass of our sun, and is feeding off gas and dust along with the occasional unlucky star. Our Milky Way's central black hole is tame by comparison, with a mass of a few million suns.

The galaxy's red spiral arms and the swirling spokes seen between the arms show dust heated by newborn stars. Older populations of stars scattered through the galaxy are blue. The fuzzy blue dot to the left, which appears to fit snuggly between the arms, is a companion galaxy.

Star forming ring around massive black hole at the centre of NGC 1097
Credit: ESO
Star forming ring around massive black hole at the centre of NGC 1097.
Credit: ESO
NGC 1097 Center
Credit: Hubble
Spiral Galaxy NGC 1097
Credit: R. Jay GaBany. APOD December 1, 2006
Spiral Galaxy NGC 1097
Credit: ESO