Astro-Images | Centaurus-A

Centaurus-A is located in the southern hemisphere skies.  I have never seen it from my location 42˚ north latitude. It rises only 5˚ above my southern horizon in early December. I’m certain it is very familiar to my blogger friend Roger in Australia.  It is the 5th brightest galaxy and easily viewed by amateurs. It contains a black hole of 55 million solar masses ejecting jets of x-ray and radio wavelengths. Models suggest the galaxy collided with another smaller galaxy in the past leading to areas of star formation in the resulting complex structure. I enjoyed combining 3 greyscale Hubble images into this composite. In the center are several newly formed bluish stars. The dark areas are dust blocking the passage of light.

Centaurus-A | Hubble Legacy Archive | My Version


Centaurus-A has a long observational history dating back to its discovery in 1826 and extending into current times. Some of the highlights of discovery are highlighted in the following 5 minute video. It starts with a wide angle view showing location in the sky. Large scale radio structures are revealed. The video gradually zooms in to increasingly detailed views in smaller wavelengths. 



I’ve created color composites from three grayscale images using the technique in this post. The colors assigned are not necessarily what the human eye would see, but are used to bring out details in structure and composition. Gallery of previous Astro-Images.


7 thoughts on “Astro-Images | Centaurus-A

    • Yes. It has been challenging. I’ve yet to see it. We are going out at 9:30 pm today with hopes of seeing it low near the NW horizon. It is going to become more of an evening event in the days to come. Getting clear enough skies is a challenge.

  1. Bravo, Jim. An excellent tutorial post, focusing on this strange galaxy. It’s always fascinating to see multi-wavelength imagery and in particular the stark contrast between visual and radio. Those gigantic radio lobes which we can’t see are intriguing.

    Yes, Centaurus A is a very popular object for ‘down under’ amateur astronomers. It’s not quite circumpolar but is technically above our horizon for over seventeen hours daily.

    • Thank you, Roger. I appreciate your remarks especially since I’ve never been fortunate to have seen it. I liked the way the video showed the different views.

  2. Very interesting post and video of an unusual galaxy. The Hubble sure has given us amazing photos over the years. Nice job on colouring and combining the greyscale images. I would love someday to see the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere.

    • I’d like to see that sky, too. I’ve been to Mexico City twice and Peru two yrs ago. We were never in a good place to do night viewing. I follow a blogger in Australia who does some excellent imaging. There are some wonderful things to see down there.

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