November 29, 2012

A 3-D Perspective on Hercules A

This video envisions a three-dimensional look at the combined visible light and radio emission from the active galaxy Hercules A. Unusually, this giant elliptical galaxy is not found in a large cluster of galaxies, but rather within a comparatively small group of galaxies. The supermassive black hole in its core, however, spews out strong jets of energetic particles that produce enormous lobes of radio emission. The size of these radio lobes dwarfs the large galaxy and extends throughout the volume of the galaxy group. This visualization is intended only to be a scientifically reasonable illustration of the three-dimensional structures. In particular, the galaxy distances are based on a statistical model, and not measured values.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay, F. Summers, G. Bacon, T. Davis, and L. Frattare

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