Along with hosting a supermassive black hole at its heart, the center of the radio-loud galaxy Centaurus A is home to a stellar nursery that tells a tale of the galaxy's past. The presence of a dark band of dust, as well as the galaxy's powerful emissions in the radio end of the spectrum, suggest it formed in a collision between a giant elliptical galaxy and a smaller spiral galaxy.
But that dark dust band blocks out the galaxy's bright center, and to see past it, astronomers have to look in longer wavelengths of light. Today's pretty space pic reveals the position and motion of the gas clouds at Centaurus A's center, the sharpest and most sensitive images ever made. The colors are the result of the Doppler effect as the gas clouds swirl around.
ALMA can detect signatures with a wavelength around 1.3 millimeters, which corresponds to carbon monoxide. As the gas moves around, it causes changes to this wavelength as seen from here. Greener features correspond to gas coming toward us, while orange areas represent gas moving away. So the gas is obviously swirling around the galactic center in this image.
This image is a combination of ALMA observations and near-infrared observations from the European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope. The Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array is set to be completed last year, but already observations with a partial array are yielding beautiful and bountiful results.
Centaurus A appears to be in the process of blowing itself apart. Perhaps someday it will be flanked by two quasars like Cygnus A (3C405) www.livingcosmos.com/quasar.htm
I wonder if ancient peoples knew about this possibility long before us:
From Psalm 102:25-26 (NIV):
Your years go on through all generations.
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
From Isaiah 51:6, (NKJV):
Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
And look on the earth beneath.
For the heavens will vanish away like smoke,
The earth will grow old like a garment,
And those who dwell in it will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not be abolished."
How is the Earth like a garment? They both grow old and wear out! WHAT A COMPARISON !!!
This also raises some intriguing questions about space-time metrics. A very readable article is at:
Brian Fraser, Scottsdale, Arizona