National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

The Heart of Spiral Galaxy M77


The Heart of Spiral Galaxy M77

In this image, the heart of the spiral galaxy M77 observed by ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is superimposed on a visible light image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The distribution of cyanoacetylene (HC3N) is shown in yellow; the distribution of carbon monosulfide (CS) in red; and the distribution of carbon monoxide (CO) in blue. Through ALMA observations, the existence of organic molecules concentrated around the supermassive black hole in the center of M77 was revealed for the first time.

A Mild Environment around the Black Hole?

It is thought that organic molecules are destroyed by the intense X-rays and ultraviolet radiation near a black hole. But this observation shows that organic molecules exist in abundance, suggesting that the environment must be milder than expected. By superimposing the ALMA observations on the image from the Hubble Space Telescope, we can see that along the 2 dark arms in the visible light image, molecular gas shines brightly in radio waves.

For more details, please refer to the press release “ALMA Revealed Surprisingly Mild Environment around Supermassive Black Hole

Translation by: Ramsey Lundock (NAOJ)

Image Data

DateJanuary 2012
ObjectSpiral Galaxy M77
TelescopeALMA, Hubble Space Telescope
Wavelengths3 mm, 606 nm, 658 nm, 814 nm
InstrumentALMA Band 3, Hubble ACS/WFPC2
CreditALMA(ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), S. Takano et al., NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and A. van der Hoeven


Related Links