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NGC 5128, Centaurus A, a radio galaxy, wide field

Date created: 2000-04-15

Tags: galaxy, elliptical, dust

NGC 5128 is in Centaurus in the southern sky, located not far above the Galactic plane, which accounts for the richness of the star field in which it is set. The circular, uniformly bright part of the galaxy is composed of several thousand million stars, most of them old and yellowish, as in an elliptical galaxy. However, unusually, this galaxy is girded by a dense dust lane which obscures and reddens the light of stars behind it while some younger, blue stars can be seen at the edges of the dust cloud. One of the nearer galaxies, 10 million light years away, NGC 5128 is also known as Centaurus A, the most powerful nearby radio source and is also a copious source of X- and gamma rays as well as visible and infrared radiation. This wide field view is just under a degree across, but the radio lobes extend many degrees of arc beyond the confines of this image.

This galaxy has a huge, faint halo of stars seen in this very deep image made using special photographic techniques. 

Photograph made from plates taken in March, 1979 (G, R) and March 1980 (B). Top left is NE. Image width is about 49 arcmin.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory