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Hubble Spots an Energetic Galaxy

Two bright, oval blobs of stars. One right below image center, the other to the upper left. These blobs are galaxies with bright white centers that dims toward their edges. Black background dotted with stars.
NASA, ESA, J. Blakeslee (NOIRLab - (AZ)), and W. Sparks (SETI Institute); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals NGC 547, an elliptical galaxy that sits about 250 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Cetus. NGC 547 shines just below the center of this image, with its companion galaxy NGC 545 near the upper left. Collectively, the pair is known as Arp 308.

NGC 547 is a bright radio galaxy, meaning it has giant regions of radio emission extending well beyond its visible structure. The lobes of radio emission are powered by jets from the active galactic nucleus, or AGN, at its center.

Galaxies with active galactic nuclei have an extremely bright region at their cores where a supermassive black hole exists. As dust and gas fall into the black hole it emits light across the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

Radio galaxies are one of the most energetic astrophysical phenomena. Hubble observed this galaxy as part of a survey for a dataset meant to help in continuing tests of scientific theories about AGNs.

Media Contact:

Claire Andreoli
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD