Astronomers at ESO’s Paranal Observatory by using the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) have captured the monster image of the Fornax Galaxy Cluster. Scientists believe that this deep view reveals the secrets of the luminous members of the Fornax Cluster that is one of the richest and closest galaxy clusters to the Milky Way.
Although, the most interesting member of this Fornax Galaxy cluster is NGC 1316. NGC 1316 is a galaxy that has formed when multiple small galaxies merge together. The gravitational contortions of the galaxy’s adventurous past have left their mark on its lenticular structure.
In 1970, scientists first observed its large ripples, loops, and arcs embedded in the starry outer envelope. But, all these remain an active field of study. So, now by using latest telescope technology along with a combination of imaging and modeling, astronomers have observed the finer details of NGC 1316’s unusual structure.
Scientists found that the merger that formed NGC 1316 led to an influx of gas, which fuels an exotic astrophysical object at its center: a supermassive black hole with a mass roughly 150 million times that of the Sun.
As it accumulates mass from its environment, this inestimable creature delivers tremendously effective planes of high-vitality particles. Thus, it increases the characteristic lobes of emission seen at radio wavelengths, making NGC 1316 the fourth-brightest radio source in the sky.
Astronomers captured the image at ESO’s Paranal Observatory as part of the Fornax Deep Survey. The team, led by Enrichetta Iodice (INAF – Osservatorio di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy), have previously observed this area with the VST and revealed a faint bridge of light between NGC 1399 and the smaller galaxy NGC 1387 (eso1612).
NGC 1316 has also been host to four recorded type Ia supernovae, which are essential astrophysical events for astronomers. Since type Ia supernovae have a very clearly defined brightness, they can be used to measure the distance to the host galaxy. In that case, 60 million light-years. These “standard candles” are much sought-after by astronomers, as they are an excellent tool to reliably measure the distance to remote objects. In fact, they played a key role in the groundbreaking discovery that our Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.
- Lenticular or “lens-shaped” galaxies are an intermediate form between diffuse elliptical galaxies and the better-known spiral galaxies such as the Milky Way.
- As this radio source is the brightest in the constellation of Fornax it is also known as Fornax A.
- Type Ia Supernovae occur when an accreting white dwarf in a binary star system slowly gains mass from its companion until it reaches a limit that triggers the nuclear fusion of carbon. In a brief period of time, a chain reaction is initiated that eventually ends in a huge release of energy: a supernova explosion. The supernova always occurs at a specific mass, known as the Chandrasekhar limit, and produces an almost identical explosion each time. The similarity of type Ia supernovae allows astronomers to use the cataclysmic events to measure distance.