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NASA image reveals a battle of galactic forces

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(CNN) -- Like a balloon being inflated, jets powered by a black hole push hot gas away from galaxy Cygnus A, leaving a football-like cavity. The features are revealed in a new image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Hot gas is steadily being piled up around the cavity as it continuously expands, creating a bright rim of X-ray emission, astronomers said in a statement.

"This is a spectacular cavity, which is inflated by jets and completely surrounds the Cygnus A galaxy," said Andrew S. Wilson, professor of astronomy at the University of Maryland.

Wilson is a member of the team that is presenting the findings this week at an American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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"We are witnessing a battle between the gravity of the Cygnus A galaxy, which is trying to pull the hot gas inwards, and the pressure of material created by the jets, which is trying to push the hot gas outwards," Wilson said in a statement.

Cygnus A, located about 700 million light years from Earth, has long been famous as the brightest radio source in the sky.

The Chandra X-ray image, which was taken with the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS), shows the cavity surrounded by a vast sea of extremely hot gas. The elongated oval shape comes from the force of the outwardly moving jets as they push through the hot gas, astronomers said.

Other members of the team presenting the observation are Andrew J. Young of the University of Maryland and Patrick L. Shopbell of the California Institute of Technology.

The most sophisticated X-ray observatory ever, NASA's orbiting Chandra telescope began recording images in August 1999.



RELATED STORIES:
Chandra telescope spots black hole 'missing link'
September 12, 2000
Chandra celebrates 1st birthday with galactic 'superbubbles'
August 17, 2000
Chandra's X-ray vision of universe awes, puzzles
June 8, 2000
Hubble, Chandra reveal a nova of many colors
April 13, 2000

RELATED SITES:
The Chandra X-ray Observatory Center
American Astronomical Society
NASA


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