Home > Astronomy, Cosmology, Galaxies, General Astronomy > Split-Personality Elliptical Galaxy Holds A Hidden Spiral

Split-Personality Elliptical Galaxy Holds A Hidden Spiral


Credit: ESO

Most big galaxies fit into one of two camps: pinwheel-shaped spiral galaxies and blobby elliptical galaxies. Spirals like the Milky Way are hip and happening places, with plenty of gas and dust to birth new stars. Ellipticals are like cosmic retirement villages, full of aging residents in the form of red giant stars. Now, astronomers have discovered that one well-known elliptical has a split personality. Centaurus A is hiding a gassy spiral in its center.

“No other elliptical galaxy is known to have spiral arms,” said lead author Daniel Espada (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan & Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). “Centaurus A may be an old galaxy, but it’s still very young at heart.”

Centaurus A isn’t your typical elliptical to begin with. Its most striking feature is a dark dust lane across its middle – a sign that it swallowed a spiral galaxy about 300 million years ago.

Full Story: http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2012/pr201229.html

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