Radio Galaxy 3C296 RadioOptical superposition
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Radio Galaxy 3C296 Radio/Optical superposition

November 4, 2003
This is a false-color image of the radio galaxy 3C296, associated with the elliptical galaxy NGC5532. Blue colors show the distribution of stars, made from an image from the Digitized Second Palomar Sky Survey, and red colors show the radio radiation as imaged by the VLA, measured at a wavelength of 20cm. Several other galaxies are seen in this image, but are not directly related to the radio source. The radio emission is from relativistic streams of high energy particles generated by the radio source in the center of the radio galaxy. Astronomers believe that the jets are fueled by material accreting onto a super-massive black hole. The high energy particles are confined to remarkably well collimated jets, and are shot into extragalactic space at speeds approaching the speed of light, where they eventually balloon into massive radio lobes. The plumes in 3C296 measure 80 kpc or 24,500 light years end-to-end (for a Hubble constant of 100 km/s/Mpc).

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