A nice view at ‘first light’

This spectacular portrait of the Centaurus A galaxy was one of the “first light images” taken by SPECULOOS (Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars), the ESO’s newest operational observatory in Chile.

First light images are taken by a telescope when it is being commissioned for science operation to guarantee it is in good working order and that the images are clear.

All seems to be well in Chile, at this stage.

Located in the constellation Centaurus, Centaurus A (NGC 5128) is one of the brightest objects in the southern hemisphere night sky. At a distance of 11 million light-years, it is the closest active galactic nucleus (AGN) to us.

From this image, you can observe red/pink star-forming regions on the bottom left of the image and young blue star clusters on the top right of the image; with dust lanes captured in stunning detail.

Towards the centre of the galaxy, leftover cosmic dust is slowly being eaten by the supermassive black hole, which has a mass of roughly 100 million solar masses. This accretion of matter results in powerful radio waves being emitted from the AGN. 

Please login to favourite this article.