Active Nucleus of NGC 3227
Super close-up view of the nucleus of NGC 3227. This time, there are a good number of filters to choose from, so color balancing was simple, but on the other hand, the field of view is quite narrow due to the use of the HRC. Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys High Resolution Channel (HRC) once provided some of the most detailed imagery possible before it gave out. To give you an idea of how detailed, if it could be used to look at Neptune's moon Triton right now, Triton would take up a little under 5x5 pixels on the detector. Good stuff.
NGC 3227 is a fun galaxy to look at. It's interacting with another galaxy, NGC 3226, and the two of them are sloshing about past one another, leaving gas and stars streaming about them in multiple directions. Just from looking at them, one can almost imagine the two orbiting one another, reorganizing their contents in the process before eventually merging into one. Please have a look at them here, as they are a very good example of a pair of interacting galaxies: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap131009.html
When I look at them, I ask myself, which one was bigger? Which was more dense? Could a bigger, but less dense galaxy be totally disrupted by a smaller, but more dense galaxy? Sure it could. Mass will always win out over size, as far as I know. But galaxies are not uniformly dense, and there is an extra component of dark matter to consider. The elliptical would seem to be the smaller one this time, but it could also be that it is a bit more distant than the spiral. They seem almost evenly matched to me.
Now that we have some context, we can understand a little better why even the nucleus of this spiral looks kind of disrupted. Star formation is ongoing as indicated by the reddish clouds of glowing hydrogen, and relatively bluer colored bright stars. The galaxy's central supermassive black hole is also actively accreting, making it extremely bright. The glowing blue spotlights are not readily apparent this time. I have a few guesses why, but I also have a feeling that the situation is not so easy to ascertain. You know, I try to read some papers, and I don't mind reading one or two, but the act of finding the right paper to read really gets me down.
Speaking of downers, Professor Stephen Hawking's death was announced as I was writing this. Rest in peace...
Data from the following proposals were used to create this image:
Red: ACS/WFC F658N
Green: WFC3/UVIS F547M
Blue: ACS/HRC F550M + ACS/HRC F330W
North is NOT up. It is 45.00° counter-clockwise from up.