The Action-Packed Centaurus A
This Herschel Space Observatory image of Centaurus A combines long-wavelength infrared data from its Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) taken at 100 microns, and its Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) instruments at 250, 350 and 500 microns. The PACS image glows almost golden yellow in the core of the galaxy, where intense star formation is taking place. This parallelogram shaped region of dust can be best described using galaxy formation models where a flat spiral galaxy collides with an elliptical galaxy, and becomes warped in the process. The SPIRE data shown in red shows the jets and surrounding clouds. The observations also reveal for the first time two new clouds at the SPIRE wavelengths, which are co-aligned with the jets at distances of around 50,000 light years from the center of the galaxy. These are visible only due to Herschel’s extreme sensitivity to emissions from the cold dust at temperatures not far above absolute zero.
Image credit: ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/C.D. Wilson, MacMaster University, Canada