News Release Archive:

News Release 602 of 1051

January 8, 2003 12:20 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2003-04

Giant Radio Jet Coming from Wrong Kind of Galaxy

An American Astronomical Society Meeting Release

January 8, 2003: These are composite images of the galaxy 0313-192, the first spiral galaxy known to be producing a giant radio-emitting jet. The image at left represents two views of the galaxy that astronomers have combined into one photograph. The view of the galaxy and its surrounding environment was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys. The red material in the image represents the radio-emitting jet, which was taken by the Very Large Array. The galaxy is seen edge-on. At right is a close-up of the Hubble telescope image. Another red overlay from a higher-resolution Very Large Array picture shows the inner portion of the jet.

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Q & A: Understanding the Discovery

  1. 1. How do astronomers know that this is a spiral galaxy?

  2. The Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard the Hubble telescope produced a richly detailed image of the galaxy, showing that it is a dust-rich spiral seen almost exactly edge-on. The complex vertical structure of the absorbing dust and the blue star-forming regions confirm the spiral nature of the galaxy.

    Until now, astronomers had found giant radio-emitting jets coming from elliptical galaxies or galaxies in the process of merging. Astronomers believe such jets originate at the cores of galaxies, where supermassive black holes provide the tremendous gravitational energy to accelerate particles to nearly the speed of light. Magnetic fields twisted tightly by spinning disks of material being sucked into the black hole are presumed to narrow the speeding particles into thin jets, like a nozzle on a garden hose.

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Credit: NASA, W. Keel (University of Alabama), M. Ledlow (Gemini Observatory), F. Owen (NRAO) and AUI/NSF