Galactic light rays shine through the dust – Astronomy Now

Image: NASA/ESA/WP Maksym (CfA).

Bands of light and dark shine from the enveloped core of active galaxy IC 5063, a lenticular (disc) galaxy located 156 million light-years away in the southern hemisphere constellation of Indus.

At the heart of IC 5063 is an active supermassive black hole busy gulping gas. As the gas approaches the black hole, it heats up and forms an accretion disk that emits brilliant light. IC 5063 belongs to a category of active galaxies known as Seyfert Type II, in which the galaxy’s active core is partially obscured by a thick torus, or ring, of dust.

Rays of light radiate from the center of the galaxy, extending as far as 36,000 light-years from the center of IC 5063, and are clearly visible in this Hubble Space Telescope image. Like twilight rays shining through gaps in clouds on the horizon at sunset, these cosmic rays of light are thought to be generated by the luminosity of the active center penetrating gaps in the dusty torus. Galactic light rays shine through the dust – Astronomy Now

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