Spiral Galaxy NGC 4945
September 3, 2009
Seen edge-on, observations of NGC 4945 suggest that this hive of stars is a spiral galaxy much like our own Milky Way, with swirling, luminous arms and a bar-shaped center. Sites of active star formation, known as H II regions, are seen prominently in the image, appearing bright pink. These resemblances aside, NGC 4945 has a brighter center that likely harbors a supermassive black hole, which is devouring reams of matter and blasting energy out into space. NGC 4945 is about 13 million light-years away in the constellation of Centaurus (the Centaur) and is beautifully revealed in this image taken with data in five bands (B, V, R, H-alpha and S II) with the 2.2-meter MPG/ESO telescope at La Silla. The field of view is 30 x 30 arcminutes. North is up, East is to the left.
Topics: Barred spiral galaxies, Centaurus constellation, Spiral galaxies, Centaurus A, Centaurus A/M83 Group, NGC, Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, Milky Way, Local Group