The two hearts of the Pinwheel
A new image from Hubble Space Telescope shows the galaxy Messier 83 in all its glory. Already known for the high number of supernovae, the Southern Pinwheel reserves a new surprise: a double nucleus at the center of the spiral.
The trip of the galaxy M83 Hubble.
Source: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA)
After a spectacular image of the Tarantula Nebula, Hubble comes with another gift. This time, it is the shimmering portrait of one of our neighbor, the spiral galaxy Messier 83 (M83), also known by the name of exotic Southern Pinwheel. A bud light, which shines only 15 million light years from us, we need just a pair of binoculars to observe it.
But to see the details, to reveal its hidden secrets, the famous telescope NASA / ESA had to field the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), which has, quite literally, the best wide angle of the universe. And the shot was amazing: a mosaic of light and shade made of hot young stars, of an intense electric blue and colder golden stars and space dust.
All wrapped up in the vortex of the two arms forming the spiral M83, joining the center of the galaxy. One bright spot, the center, which is difficult to take your eyes off, there, is kept the innermost mystery of the Southern Pinwheel. The light we see from the Hubble Space Telescope corresponds to a supermassive black hole, “fed” by the same gas forming new stars, giving brightness to the active galactic nucleus of Messier 83.
And therein lays the great discovery thanks to the photography of WFC3: the galactic core is actually one of two different nuclei, two nerve centers that give to the Southern Pinwheel, two hearts. It is a phenomenon known just as “dual core”, already pointed out several years ago in the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the nearest spiral galaxy to us.
But it does not mean that M83 contains two black holes plants, on the contrary, the single black hole is surrounded by an asymmetric disk of stars that orbits around creating the image of the two centers.
Located in the constellation Hydra, Messier 83 is part of a group of galaxies known as Centaurus A/M83, which is close to our Local Group.
Digitized Sky Survey: Original Digitized Sky Survey
Even before this discovery, it was already famous among astronomers for the large number of supernova explosions: 6 observed to date, the second record after the NGC 6946 Galaxy, where 9 explosions have took place and that is why it is also called the Fireworks.
Now, the new image of M83 raises the interest in this latest masterpiece of nature. That, however, is less impressive than it looks: looking through the eye of Hubble Space Telescope we observe that the galaxy is less than half of our Milky Way. Just in its center, the Southern Pinwheel has a mantle that deceives.