What is it: ESO 420-G013, an extremely bright spiral galaxy facing a hungry black hole.
When it was taken: January 30, 2024
where is she: 50 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Sculptor
Why is it so special: This image from the Hubble Space Telescope captures the dark dust streaks of a rare type of spiral galaxy against the glow of thousands of stars.
The image shows a bright core and brown filaments of dark dust, but the galaxy's perfectly round disk is the most prominent feature. That's because Hubble, which has been orbiting Earth since 1990, happens to have a direct, head-on view of ESO 420-G013.
Besides being a good example of a spiral galaxy, ESO 420-G013 is a Seyfert galaxy. Named after American astronomer Carl Keenan Seyfert, who investigated the objects in 1943, the Seyfert Galaxy possesses an extremely bright, blob-like active galactic nucleus, supported by a supermassive mass. Black holeaccording to NASA statement. Deep within ESO 420-G013, its hungry black hole is pulling in surrounding material and sending out powerful radiation. They also form new stars at a high rate.
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Seyfert galaxies like these can be seen in… Infrared – Wavelengths of light beyond those visible to humans in the electromagnetic spectrum – which Hubble can detect thanks to its Wide Field Camera 3, sensitive to ultraviolet, visible and infrared light.
What sets the ESO 420-G013 apart is its clarity. Most galaxies with active galactic nuclei contain black holes so bright that their radiation completely blocks the light of the host galaxy. However, Seyfert galaxies like ESO 420-G013 are special, because the structure of the galaxy surrounding them can be clearly detected.
ESO 420-G013 was captured by Hubble as part of a search for luminous infrared galaxies, known for their extreme brightness in the infrared spectrum.
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