Space Observatory

An ESA Mission
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Herschel's View of NGC 1097

Portrayed in this image by ESA's Herschel Space Observatory is NGC 1097, a barred spiral galaxy located some fifty million light-years from us, in the southern constellation Fornax, the Furnace.

The blue regions sprinkled across the galaxy's two spiral arms are sites of intense star formation. There, the energy from newborn stars has heated up the dust interspersed in the interstellar gas, making it glow at the far-infrared and sub-millimetre wavelengths probed by Herschel.

The dwarf elliptical galaxy NGC 1097A, a small satellite of NGC 1097, can be seen as the fuzzy blue blob in the top right, halfway between the two spiral arms.

The bright core of the NGC 1097, surrounded by a glowing ring where most of the galaxy's prodigious star formation is taking place, conceals a supermassive black hole about a hundred million times the mass of our Sun. This black hole is actively devouring matter from its vicinity, causing the galactic core to shine brightly across the electromagnetic spectrum, from X-rays to radio waves.

This galaxy was first discovered and originally identified as a nebula in the late 18th century in optical observations by William Herschel, the astronomer after whom the Herschel Space Observatory is named. Despite the source's location in the southern sky, it was still visible a few degrees above the horizon at the site in England where Herschel made his observations.

This three-colour image combines Herschel observations at 70 and 100 microns (blue), 160 and 250 microns (green), and 350 and 500 microns (red). North is up and east to the left.

Image Details
September 20, 2017
ESA/Herschel/NASA/JPL-Caltech CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO; Acknowledgement: R. Hurt (JPL-Caltech)
Object Details
NGC 1097
Lightyears 50,000,000
Color Mapping
Telescope Spectral Band Color Assigment Wavelength
Herschel (PACS) Infrared Blue 70.0 µm
Herschel (PACS) Infrared Blue 100.0 µm
Herschel (PACS) Infrared Green 160.0 µm
Herschel (SPIRE) Infrared Green 250.0 µm
Herschel (SPIRE) Infrared Red 350.0 µm
Herschel (SPIRE) Infrared Red 500.0 µm