Centaurus A (NGC 5128)
|Observation data (J2000 epoch)|
|Right ascension||13h 25m 27.6s|
|Declination||−43° 01′ 09″|
|Redshift||547 ± 5 km/s|
|Distance||10–16 Mly (3–5 Mpc)|
|Type||S0 pec or Ep|
|Size (ly)||60,000 ly|
|Apparent dimensions (V)||25′.7 × 20′.0|
|Apparent magnitude (V)||6.84|
|Notable features||Unusual dust lane|
|NGC 5128, Arp 153, PGC 46957, 4U 1322–42, Caldwell 77|
Centaurus A or NGC 5128 is a prominent galaxy in the constellation of Centaurus. It was discovered in 1826 by Scottish astronomer James Dunlop from his home in Parramatta, in New South Wales, Australia. There is considerable debate in the literature regarding the galaxy's fundamental properties such as its Hubble type (lenticular galaxy or a giant elliptical galaxy) and distance (10–16 million light-years). NGC 5128 is one of the closest radio galaxies to Earth, so its active galactic nucleus has been extensively studied by professional astronomers. The galaxy is also the fifth-brightest in the sky, making it an ideal amateur astronomy target, although the galaxy is only visible from low northern latitudes and the southern hemisphere.
The center of the galaxy contains a supermassive black hole with a mass equivalent to 55 million solar masses, which ejects a relativistic jet that is responsible for emissions in the X-ray and radio wavelengths. By taking radio observations of the jet separated by a decade, astronomers have determined that the inner parts of the jet are moving at about one half of the speed of light. X-rays are produced farther out as the jet collides with surrounding gases resulting in the creation of highly energetic particles. The X-ray jets of Centaurus A are thousands of light-years long, while the radio jets are over a million light-years long.
Like other starburst galaxies, a collision is suspected to be responsible for the intense burst of star formation. Models have suggested that Centaurus A was a large elliptical galaxy which collided and merged with a smaller spiral galaxy.
- 1826: NGC 5128 was discovered on 29th April from James Dunlop during a survey at the Parramatta Observatory.
- 1847: John Herschel describes the galaxy as "two semi-ovals of elliptically formed nebula appearing to be cut asunder and separated by a broad obscure band parallel to the larger axis of the nebula, in the midst of which a faint streak of light parallel to the sides of the cut appears." 
- 1949: John Gatenby Bolton, Bruce Slee and Gordon Stanley localize NGC 5128 as one of the first extragalactical radio sources.
- 1954: Walter Baade and Rudolph Minkowski suggest, that the peculiar structure is the result of a merge event of a giant elliptical galaxy and a small spiral galaxy. 
- 1970: Detection of X-ray emissions using a sounding rocket.
- 1975–76: Detection of gamma-ray emissions through the atmospheric Cerenkov technique.
- 1986: Detection of the supernova 1986G.
- 1996: Young blue stars were found along the central dust band with the Hubble Space Telescope.
- 2006: The Spitzer Space Telescope finds a parallelogram-shaped structure of dust in near infrared images.
- 2009: Evidence of gamma emissions with very high energy (more than 100 GeV) with the H.E.S.S-Observatorium in Namibia.
- 2010: Several years of observation with the Pierre Auger Observatory suggest that Centaurus A is a source of cosmic rays of highest energies.
Centaurus A may be described as having a peculiar morphology. As seen from Earth, the galaxy looks like a lenticular or elliptical galaxy with a superimposed dust lane. The peculiarity of this galaxy was first identified in 1847 by John Herschel, and the galaxy was included in Halton Arp's Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies (published in 1966) as one of the best examples of a "disturbed" galaxy with dust absorption. The galaxy's strange morphology is generally recognized as the result of a merger between two smaller galaxies.
The bulge of this galaxy is composed mainly of evolved red stars. The dusty disk, however, has been the site of more recent star formation; over 100 star formation regions have been identified in the disk.
Two supernovae have been detected in Centaurus A. The first supernova, named SN 1986G, was discovered within the dark dust lane of the galaxy by R. Evans in 1986. It was later identified as a type Ia supernova, which forms when a white dwarf's mass grows large enough to ignite carbon fusion in its center, touching off a runaway thermonuclear reaction, as may happen when a white dwarf in a binary star system strips gas away from the other star. SN 1986G was used to demonstrate that the spectra of type Ia supernovae are not all identical, and that type Ia supernovae may differ in the way that they change in brightness over time.
Distance estimates to NGC 5128 established since the 1980s typically range between 3–5 Mpc. Classical Cepheids discovered in the heavily-obscured dust lane of NGC 5128 yield a distance between ~3–3.5 Mpc, depending on the nature of the extinction law adopted and other considerations. Mira variables and Type II Cepheids were also discovered in NGC 5128, the latter being rarely detected beyond the Local Group. The distance to NGC 5128 established from several indicators such as Mira variables and planetary nebulae favour a more distant value of ~3.8 Mpc.
Nearby galaxies and galaxy group information
Centaurus A is at the center of one of two subgroups within the Centaurus A/M83 Group, a nearby group of galaxies. Messier 83 (the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy) is at the center of the other subgroup. These two groups are sometimes identified as one group and sometimes identified as two groups. However, the galaxies around Centaurus A and the galaxies around M83 are physically close to each other, and both subgroups appear not to be moving relative to each other. The Centaurus A/M83 Group is located in the Virgo Supercluster.
Centaurus A is located approximately 4° north of Omega Centauri (a globular cluster visible with the naked eye). Because the galaxy has a high surface brightness and relatively large angular size, it is an ideal target for amateur astronomy observations. The bright central bulge and dark dust lane are visible even in finderscopes and large binoculars, and additional structure may be seen in larger telescopes. Centaurus A is visible to the naked eye under exceptionally good conditions.
The radio galaxy Centaurus A, as seen by ALMA
"Hubble's panchromatic vision... reveals the vibrant glow of young, blue star clusters..."
The heavily-obscured inner (barred?) spiral disk at 24 μm as shown by the Spitzer IR telescope
Video about Centaurus A jets
- Messier 87 – a giant elliptical galaxy that is also a strong radio source
- NGC 1316 – a similar lenticular galaxy that is also a strong radio source
- "NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database". Results for Centaurus A. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
- J. L. Tonry; A. Dressler; J. P. Blakeslee; E. A. Ajhar; et al. (2001). "The SBF Survey of Galaxy Distances. IV. SBF Magnitudes, Colors, and Distances". Astrophysical Journal. 546 (2): 681–693. arXiv:. Bibcode:2001ApJ...546..681T. doi:10.1086/318301.
- "Distance Results for NGC 5128". NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- Ferrarese Laura; Mould Jeremy R.; Stetson Peter B.; Tonry John L.; et al. (2007). "The Discovery of Cepheids and a Distance to NGC 5128". The Astrophysical Journal. 654: 186. arXiv:. Bibcode:2007ApJ...654..186F. doi:10.1086/506612.
- Majaess, D. (2010). "The Cepheids of Centaurus A (NGC 5128) and Implications for H0". Acta Astronomica. 60: 121. arXiv:. Bibcode:2010AcA....60..121M.
- Harris, Gretchen L. H.; Rejkuba, Marina; Harris, William E. (2010). "The Distance to NGC 5128 (Centaurus A)". Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. 27 (4): 457–462. arXiv:. Bibcode:2010PASA...27..457H. doi:10.1071/AS09061.
- Harris, Gretchen L. H. (2010). "NGC 5128: The Giant Beneath". Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. 27 (4): 475. arXiv:. Bibcode:2010PASA...27..475H. doi:10.1071/AS09063.
- "SIMBAD-A". SIMBAD Astronomical Database. Retrieved 2009-11-29.
- Armando, Gil de Paz; Boissier; Madore; Seibert; Boselli; et al. (2007). "The GALEX Ultraviolet Atlas of Nearby Galaxies". Astrophysical Journal Supplement. 173 (2): 185–255. arXiv:. Bibcode:2007ApJS..173..185G. doi:10.1086/516636.
- 4U catalog browse version.
- F. P. Israel (1998). "Centaurus A – NGC 5128". Astronomy and Astrophysics Review. 8 (4): 237–278. arXiv:. Bibcode:1998A&ARv...8..237I. doi:10.1007/s001590050011.
- D. J. Eicher (1988). The Universe from Your Backyard. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-36299-7.
- "Radio Telescopes Capture Best-Ever Snapshot of Black Hole Jets". NASA. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- Nemiroff, R.; Bonnell, J., eds. (13 April 2011). "Centaurus Radio Jets Rising". Astronomy Picture of the Day. NASA. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
- Quillen, A. C.; Brookes, M. H.; Keene, J.; Stern, D.; Lawrence, C. R.; Werner, M. W. (2006). "Spitzer Observations of the Dusty Warped Disk of Centaurus A". The Astrophysical Journal. 645 (2): 1092. arXiv:. Bibcode:2006ApJ...645.1092Q. doi:10.1086/504418.
- Peter Robertson, Glen Cozens, Wayne Orchiston, Bruce Slee, Harry Wendt (2010-01-01). "Early Australian Optical and Radio Observations of Centaurus A". Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. 27 (04): 402–430. doi:10.1071/AS09071. ISSN 1323-3580. Retrieved 2016-08-21.
- John Herschel (1849). "Outlines of Astronomy": 602.
- J. G. Bolton, G. J. Stanley, O. B. Slee (1949). "Positions of Three Discrete Sources of Galactic Radio-Frequency Radiation". Nature. Nature. 164 (4159): 101–102.
- C. S. Bowyer, M. Lampton, J. Mack, F. de Mendonca (1970). "Detection of X-Ray Emission from 3C 273 and NGC 5128". Astrophysical Journal. 161. doi:10.1086/180559.
- E. J. Schreier, E. Feigelson, J. Delvaille, R. Giacconi, D. A. Schwartz (1979). "EINSTEIN Observations of The X-Ray Structure of Centaurus A: Evidence For The Radio-Lobe Energy Source". Astrophysical Journal, Part 2 – Letters to the Editor. 234: 39–43. doi:10.1086/183105.
- "HubbleSite – NewsCenter – Hubble Provides Multiple Views of How to Feed a Black Hole (05/14/1998) – Background Info". Retrieved 2015-10-14.
- R. P. Kraft, J. M. Kregenow, W. R. Forman, C. Jones, S. S. Murray (2001-10-20). "Chandra Observations of the X‐Ray Point Source Population in Centaurus A". The Astrophysical Journal. 560 (2): 675–688. doi:10.1086/323056. Retrieved 2015-10-14.
- Alice C. Quillen, Mairi H. Brookes, Jocelyn Keene, Daniel Stern, Charles R. Lawrence (2006-07-10). "Spitzer Observations of the Dusty Warped Disk of Centaurus A". The Astrophysical Journal. 645 Nummer = 2: 1092–1101. doi:10.1086/504418. Retrieved 2015-10-14.
- F. Aharonian, A. G. Akhperjanian, G. Anton, U. Barres de Almeida, A. R. Bazer-Bachi (2009-04-10). "DISCOVERY OF VERY HIGH ENERGY γ-RAY EMISSION FROM CENTAURUS A WITH H.E.S.S.". The Astrophysical Journal. 695 (1): L40–L44. doi:10.1088/0004-637x/695/1/l40. Retrieved 2015-10-14.
- J. Abraham, P. Abreu, M. Aglietta, C. Aguirre, D. Allard (2008-04-01). "Correlation of the highest-energy cosmic rays with the positions of nearby active galactic nuclei". Astroparticle Physics. 29 (3): 188–204. doi:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2008.01.002. Retrieved 2015-10-14.
- A. Sandage; J. Bedke (1994). Carnegie Atlas of Galaxies. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington. ISBN 0-87279-667-1.
- H. Arp (1966). "Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies". Astrophysical Journal Supplement. 14: 1–20. Bibcode:1966ApJS...14....1A. doi:10.1086/190147.
- W. Baade; R. Minkowski (1954). "On the Identification of Radio Sources". Astrophysical Journal. 119: 215–231. Bibcode:1954ApJ...119..215B. doi:10.1086/145813.
- P. W. Hodge; R. C. Kennicutt Jr. (1982). "An atlas of H II regions in 125 galaxies". Astrophysical Journal. 88: 296–328. Bibcode:1983AJ.....88..296H. doi:10.1086/113318.
- "NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database". Results for extended name search on Centaurus A. Retrieved 2007-03-07.
- R. Evans; R. H. McNaught; C. Humphries (1986). "Supernova 1986G in NGC 5128". IAU Circular. 4208: 1. Bibcode:1986IAUC.4208....1E.
- M. M. Phillips; A. C. Phillips; S. R. Heathcote; V. M. Blanco; et al. (1987). "The type 1a supernova 1986G in NGC 5128 – Optical photometry and spectra". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 99: 592–605. Bibcode:1987PASP...99..592P. doi:10.1086/132020.
- Rejkuba, M. (2004). "The distance to the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 5128". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 413 (3): 903. arXiv:. Bibcode:2004A&A...413..903R. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20034031.
- Majaess, D.; Turner, D.; Lane, D. (2009). "Type II Cepheids as Extragalactic Distance Candles". Acta Astronomica. 59: 403. arXiv:. Bibcode:2009AcA....59..403M.
- I. D. Karachentsev; M. E. Sharina; A. E. Dolphin; E. K. Grebel; et al. (2002). "New distances to galaxies in the Centaurus A group". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 385 (1): 21–31. Bibcode:2002A&A...385...21K. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20020042.
- R. B. Tully (1988). Nearby Galaxies Catalog. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-35299-1.
- P. Fouque; E. Gourgoulhon; P. Chamaraux; G. Paturel (1992). "Groups of galaxies within 80 Mpc. II – The catalogue of groups and group members". Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement. 93: 211–233. Bibcode:1992A&AS...93..211F.
- A. Garcia (1993). "General study of group membership. II – Determination of nearby groups". Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement. 100: 47–90. Bibcode:1993A&AS..100...47G.
- I. D. Karachentsev (2005). "The Local Group and Other Neighboring Galaxy Groups". Astronomical Journal. 129 (1): 178–188. arXiv:. Bibcode:2005AJ....129..178K. doi:10.1086/426368.
- "The Dark Side of Star Clusters". Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- "Firestorm of Star Birth in Galaxy Centaurus A". NASA. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
- STScI. Hubble Provides Multiple Views of How to Feed a Black Hole. Press release: Space Telescope Science Institute. March 14, 1998.
- Chandra X-Ray Observatory Photo Album Centaurus A Jet
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Centaurus A.|
- Sarka Wykes Centaurus A project
- SEDS: Peculiar Galaxy NGC 5128
- ESA/Hubble images of Centaurus A
- NASA's APOD: The Galaxy Within Centaurus A (3/4/06)
- NASA's APOD: X-Rays from an Active Galaxy (7/5/03)
- High-resolution image of Centaurus A showing the discrete elements of galactic core
- Centaurus A at UniverseToday.com
- NGC5128 Centaurus A
- NGC 5128 at DOCdb (Deep Sky Observer's Companion)
- Centaurus A on WikiSky: DSS2, SDSS, GALEX, IRAS, Hydrogen α, X-Ray, Astrophoto, Sky Map, Articles and images
- Centaurus A at Constellation Guide