Enigmatic spiral galaxy
shines in southern skies, about
45 million light-years away in the chemical constellation
Its blue spiral arms are mottled with pinkish star forming regions
in this colorful galaxy portrait.
They seem to have wrapped around a small companion galaxy below
and left of center, about 40,000 light-years from the spiral's luminous core.
That's not NGC 1097's most peculiar
The very deep exposure hints of faint,
mysterious jets, most easily seen to extend well beyond
the bluish arms toward the lower right.
In fact, four faint jets are ultimately
in optical images of NGC 1097.
trace an X centered on the galaxy's nucleus, but probably don't
Instead, they could be fossil star streams,
trails left over from the
capture and disruption of a much smaller galaxy in the
large spiral's ancient past.
galaxy, NGC 1097's nucleus also harbors a
supermassive black hole.