Hubble Examines Galaxy's Throbbing Heart

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As part of an ongoing survey of active galaxies, the Hubble Space Telescope looked deep into the heart of one stunning example just 32 million light-years from the Milky Way.

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Shown here, NGC 1433 is especially active and known as a Seyfert galaxy. Seyferts are amongst the most active 10 percent of galaxies — the central supermassive black holes voraciously consume matter in the galactic cores. This category of galaxies have very bright centers, often outshining our entire galaxy.

NGC 1433 was observed as part of Hubble’s Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS) campaign, which aims to survey 50 nearby galaxies. Through the detection of ultraviolet light, astronomers can gauge the rate of new star formation and the quantities of gas and dust being consumed by the supermassive black hole. This is of special interest to astronomers as black holes in the centers of particularly active galaxies are known to impact stellar evolution, often ‘switching off’ galactic star formation entirely.

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In the case of NGC 1433, however, there’s something surprising in its core. During observations by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a spiral structure of molecular gas was detected in the galaxy’s core. Also, a jet of material flowing away from the black hole has been spied extending only 150 light-years — the smallest molecular outflow ever observed in a galaxy beyond the Milky Way.

Source: NASA via Physorg.com