Some 45 million light years away in the direction of the constellation of Fornax, a supermassive black hole is consuming its breakfast… and it doesn’t want just toast and tea. It has a hungry belly and the energetic area surrounding the central black hole is super-heated through its interaction with dust, gas, and other matter. Oh, dear. What can that matter be? Try a smaller galaxy that dared to get too close…
NGC1097 belongs a special class of galaxies called Seyfert – those that produce a specific type of spectrum and are thought to contain active galactic nuclei with super massive black holes. What makes this galaxy even more interesting is the very faint optical “jets” that may be the remnants of a smaller galaxy interaction many years ago.
Like a lingering smear of marmalade or a trail of toast crumbs, these optical jets leave visual and photographic clues as to their origin. In a deep search for neutral hydrogen gas associated with the faint optical “jets” of NGC 1097, researchers using the Very Large Array detected an H I source coincident with a small edge-on spiral or irregular galaxy (NGC 1097B) 12′ southwest of NGC 1097, situated between two jets. In addition, two other sources are noted – but not associated with the optical jets themselves. Click here for full size color image.
Could it be bacon?
According to James Higdon and John Wallin; “The jets’ radio-X-ray spectral energy distribution is most consistent with starlight. However, from their morphology, optical/near-infrared colors, and lack of H I, we argue that the jets are not tidal tails drawn out of NGC 1097’s disk or stars stripped from the elliptical companion NGC 1097A. We also reject in situ star formation in ancient radio jets as this requires essentially 100% conversion of gas into stars on large scales. Instead, we conclude that the jets represent the captured remains of a disrupted dwarf galaxy that passed through the inner few kiloparsecs of NGC 1097’s disk.
We present N-body simulations of such an encounter that reproduce the essential features of NGC 1097’s jets: A long and narrow “X”-shaped morphology centered near the spiral’s nucleus, right-angle bends, and no discernible dwarf galaxy remnant. A series of jetlike distributions are formed, with the earliest appearing ~1.4 Gyr after impact. Well-defined X shapes form only when the more massive galaxy has a strong disk component. Ram-pressure stripping of the dwarf’s interstellar medium would be expected to occur while passing through NGC 1097’s disk, accounting for the jets’ lack of H I and H II. The remnants’ (B-V) color would still agree with observations even after ~3 Gyr of passive evolution, provided the cannibalized dwarf was low-metallicity and dominated by young stars at impact.”
Bu that’s not all that’s on the table…
“The nucleus of the nearby galaxy NGC 1097 is known to host a young, compact (r Many thanks to NorthernGalactic member, Ken Crawford for his exclusive images. Be sure to check out Ken’s webpages at Imaging Deep Sky.