Last week, NASA shared a new image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope that shows a galaxy with an active black hole.

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The spiral galaxy NGC 7172 is located approximately 110 million light-years from Earth within the constellation Piscis Austrinus. The image shows a 'lane of dust threading its way across NGC 7172' that obscures the galaxy's core. When viewed from the side, it looks like a normal spiral galaxy.

However, there's more to it than meets the eye. When astronomers surveyed NGC 7172 across the electromagnetic spectrum, it became evident that NGC 7172 is not a typical spiral galaxy, but is instead a Seyfert galaxy. This type of galaxy has extremely active cores that release as much energy as the rest of the galaxy. Current estimates suggest that about 1 in every 10 galaxies is a Seyfert galaxy. These active galaxies have supermassive black holes at their centers which accrete cosmic materials and release considerable radiation.

NGC 7172. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. J. Rosario, A. Barth; Acknowledgment: L. Shatz

The cores of Seyfert galaxies are brightest when viewing them outside of the visible spectrum. Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) can observe ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared light, allowing us to see better what's going on with Seyfert galaxies like NGC 7172. The image also includes observations from Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). This camera was installed on Hubble during a servicing mission in 2002. The ACS was designed to survey large areas of the sky at visible and red wavelengths with better efficiency than the earlier Wide Field Planetary Camera (WPFC2).

Today's news is short and sweet, but if you want to see even more from the Hubble Space Telescope, check out these other articles: