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Years of observation of distant galaxy provide dramatic new image

Feb. 6, 2014 at 6:16 PM   |   Comments

GREENBELT, Md., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- NASA says its Chandra X-ray Observatory has revisited a galaxy 12 million light years from Earth with a giant jet blasting away from a supermassive black hole.

Just weeks after NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory began operations in 1999, the telescope pointed at Centaurus A, and has periodically returned its attention to the object, gathering more data each time.

New processing techniques applied to years of Chandra's observations are providing a new look at this old galactic friend, NASA said in a release Thursday.

This new image of Centaurus A contains data from observations, equivalent to over nine and a half days worth of time, taken between 1999 and 2012, NASA said.

The new composite image highlights the spectacular jet of outflowing material that is generated by the giant black hole at the galaxy's center, astronomers said.

It also reveals a dust lane that wraps around the waist of the galaxy, a feature possibly the result of a collision Centaurus A experienced with a smaller galaxy millions of years ago, they said.

The data housed in Chandra's extensive archive on Centaurus A provide a rich resource for a wide range of scientific investigations, NASA said.

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