[M77 in X-rays, CXO]

The Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN) of Seyfert galaxy M77 (NGC 1068), about 60 million light years from Earth, in the X-ray light, as photographed by Chandra X-ray Observatory.

A composite Chandra X-ray (blue/green) and Hubble optical (red) image of M77 (NGC 1068) shows hot gas blowing away from a central supermassive object at speeds averaging about 1 million miles per hour. The elongated shape of the gas cloud is thought to be due to the funneling effect of a torus, or doughnut-shaped cloud, of cool gas and dust that surrounds the central object, which many astronomers think is a black hole. The X-rays are scattered and reflected X-rays that are probably coming from a hidden disk of hot gas formed as matter swirls very near the black hole. Regions of intense star formation in the inner spiral arms of the galaxy are highlighted by the optical emission. This image extends over a field 36 arcsec on a side.

  • This image was featured as Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) July 11, 2003

    Individual images:

    [M77 in high-energy X-rays, CXO]

    This three-color high energy X-ray image (red =1.3-3 keV, green = 3-6 keV, blue = 6-8 keV) of NGC 1068 shows gas rushing away from the nucleus. The brightest point-like source may be the inner wall of the torus that is reflecting X-rays from the hidden nucleus. Scale: Image is 30 arcsec per side.

    [M77 in low-energy X-rays, CXO]

    This three-color low energy X-ray image of M77 (NGC 1068) (red = 0.4-0.6 keV, green = 0.6-0.8 keV, blue = 0.8-1.3 keV) shows gas rushing away from the the nucleus (bright white spot). The range of colors from blue to red corresponds to a high through low ionization of the atoms in the wind. Scale: Image is 30 arcsec per side.

    [M77 in visible light, HST]

    This optical image of the active galaxy NGC 1068, taken by Hubble's WFPC2, gives a detailed view of the spiral arms in the inner parts of the galaxy. Scale: Image is 30 arcsec per side.

    Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/P. Ogle et.al.; Optical: NASA/STScI/A. Capetti et.al.

  • Original CXO press release
  • More X-ray images of the Chandra X-ray Ovservatory (CXO)

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

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    Last Modification: 12 Jul 2003