Giant galaxy, one of the closest to Earth, dazzles in new portrait

Centaurus A shows off its "dark tendrils of dust" in a knockout glamor shot.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
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The Centaurus A galaxy can be found in the direction of the constellation Centaurus. It's quite a looker.


Centaurus A is a rock star among galaxies. It's located a relatively close 12 million light-years from Earth. It's bright. It's an absolute unit. It's a favorite of amateur astronomers. And it's the focus of a stunner of a new portrait from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.

The National Science Foundation's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) described Centaurus A, in a statement on Tuesday, as "one of the closest giant galaxies to Earth" and "one the best-studied objects in the southern hemisphere night sky." 

Centaurus A's distinctive look is due in part to a dramatic past merger when a huge elliptical galaxy collided with a smaller spiral galaxy. The galaxy is a busy place for star formation. If you trace the "dark tendrils of dust" in the foreground of the image, you 'll spot small blue stars gathered around the ends.

The gorgeous image comes to us courtesy of the Dark Energy Camera, which is mounted to the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope. A NOIRLab video lets you dive deeper into the image to the tune of a spacey soundtrack, or you can download a massive full-size version of the image to splash all over your screens.

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For more on Centaurus A, check out the Event Horizon Telescope's view of an extreme cosmic jet blasting from the galaxy's center. 

If you're in the southern hemisphere, break out some binoculars or a small telescope and go looking for Centaurus A. If you're elsewhere, then go ahead and just bask in this glorious telescope portrait.

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