A Spiral in an Air Pump

IC 2560There’s a constellation in the southern sky called Antlia (The Air Pump). It was named by a French Astronomer in honor of the invention of the air pump in the 17th century. Spiral galaxy IC 2560 is about 110 million light-years away in the constellation Antlia. It is a relatively nearby spiral galaxy, and is part of the Antlia cluster, a group of over 200 galaxies held together by gravity. Unlike most other galaxy clusters, the Antlia cluster doesn’t appear to have one big dominant galaxy within it.

It’s easy to make out IC 2560’s spiral arms and barred structure in this Hubble image. IC 2560 is a Seyfert-2 galaxy, a type of spiral galaxy characterized by an extremely bright nucleus and very strong emission lines from the elements hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, and oxygen. The bright center of the galaxy is thought to be the result of the ejection of huge amounts of super-hot gas from the region around a central black hole.

Image Credit: NASA

Oh, one more thing … Seyfert galaxies were first identified by Carl Seyfert, who I had a chance to meet as a kid in a local astronomy club in Nashville. Dr. Seyfert was director of the Dyer Observatory at Vanderbilt University. In the ’50s he was also the weatherman on the local news at WSM-TV.

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