A cosmic question in NGC 4696

This picture, taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, shows NGC 4696, the largest galaxy in the Centaurus Cluster.

 

(To see a video of NGC 4696 go here: www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/4888176841/)

 

The huge dust lane, around 30 000 light-years across, that sweeps across the face of the galaxy makes NGC 4696 look different from most other elliptical galaxies. Viewed at certain wavelengths, strange thin filaments of ionised hydrogen are visible within it. In this picture, these structures are visible as a subtle marbling effect across the galaxy’s bright centre.

 

Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA

 

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation's largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

 

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Taken on July 29, 2010