Hubble shows violent side of colorful galaxy
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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
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.
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Space Telescope Science Institute
Hubble Heritage Project
Spacelink - Hubble Space Telescope
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