Boomer12k wrote:Anybody notice that it M106 looks like it has TWO cores?
They look like they are swirling around each other, trailing "arms"...it looks like many mergers have happened...or being disrupted by others in the group.
Anyway...very interesting image.
M106 is interesting indeed, and its extra arms are extra interesting.
The picture at left is a composite image where blue represents X-rays from the Chandra Space Telescope, purple is radio waves form the VLA, red is infrared light from the Spitzer Space Telescope and yellow and blue is optical data from Hubble. You can see the extra arms outlined in X-rays and radio waves.
A galaxy about 23 million light years away is the site of impressive, ongoing, fireworks. Rather than paper, powder, and fire, this galactic light show involves a giant black hole, shock waves, and vast reservoirs of gas.
This galactic fireworks display is taking place in NGC 4258 (also known as M106), a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way. This galaxy is famous, however, for something that our Galaxy doesn't have - two extra spiral arms that glow in X-ray, optical, and radio light. These features, or anomalous arms, are not aligned with the plane of the galaxy, but instead intersect with it.
According to the Harvard Chandra page that I just linked to, the cause of the extra arms may be two powerful jets from the supermassive central black hole of the galaxy. These powerful jets strike the disk of M106, heating some of its gas to thousands of degrees and causing some of the gas to be ejected from the galaxy - probably, I think, along the anomalous arms.
The ejection of gas from the disk by the jets has important implications for the fate of this galaxy. Researchers estimate that all of the remaining gas will be ejected within the next 300 million years - very soon on cosmic time scales - unless it is somehow replenished. Because most of the gas in the disk has already been ejected, less gas is available for new stars to form. Indeed, the researchers used Spitzer data to estimate that stars are forming in the central regions of NGC 4258, at a rate which is about ten times less than in the Milky Way Galaxy.
M106 is apparently well on its way to becoming a lenticular, red and dead galaxy!