This composite image showcases the galaxy Centaurus A (Cen A), which hosts a supermassive black hole in its center.
The black hole feeds on surrounding gas and dust and spews out high-energy particles and other materials through two jets, one of which extends about 13,000 light-years from the black hole.
A dust lane visible in the middle of the galaxy resulted from a collision with a smaller galaxy millions of years ago, as reported by NASA.
The colors in the image represent different sources of data: blue denotes X-ray light observed by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, orange shows X-rays detected by NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) satellite, and white and gray represent optical light captured by the European Southern Observatory in Chile.
Since its launch in 2021, IXPE has helped scientists better understand Cen A by measuring X-ray light polarization, which relates to the organization of electromagnetic waves.
Researchers using IXPE at Cen A hope to understand the source of X-ray emission in the jets.
So far, they have not detected X-ray polarization, indicating that heavier particles like protons are not producing the X-rays.
With further analysis of the data, scientists expect to gain more insights into the mysteries of Cen A, which lies in the constellation Centaurus and is located 12 million light-years away from Earth.
Written by staff