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Hubble shows violent side of colorful galaxy

 larger 
Galaxy in the southern constellation Circinus  

(CNN) -- The nice colors of this picturesque galaxy do little to suggest the awesome physical forces at work 13 million light years away.

At its center, the galaxy likely contains a super-massive black hole that blows gas out at phenomenal speeds, according to scientists who released the Hubble Space Telescope image Thursday.

Located in the compact nucleus of the spiral galaxy, the suspected black hole accretes the surrounding gas and dust. It also expels gas in a pair of powerful jets, which appear as magenta streamers that extend toward the top of the image.

Much of the gas in the galaxy, which lies in the southern constellation Circinus, concentrates in two specific rings. One extends 1,300 light years and was first observed by telescopes on the ground. Another is only 260-light years across and was first detected by Hubble.

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The larger ring is in the plane of the galaxy's disk but extends beyond the Hubble image. The smaller one resides inside the green disk visible in the galactic interior.

Because the Circinus galaxy is near the plane of our own Milky Way, it remained hidden to astronomers behind a veil of dust until a quarter century ago.

Led by Andrew S. Wilson of the University of Maryland, a Hubble research team took the composite image of the galaxy with different color filters in April 1999.



RELATED STORIES:
Hubble observes fast-moving neutron star
November 9, 2000
Hubble records fireworks when galaxies collide
November 2, 2000
Hubble images show delicate wisps of starstuff
October 11, 2000
Hubble reveals secrets of a celestial 'Blob'
October 9, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Space Telescope Science Institute
Hubble Heritage Project
Spacelink - Hubble Space Telescope


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