A radio and optical view of galaxy NGC 5643 shows the fiery core of a luminous Seyfert galaxy, powered by gas and debris being sucked into a supermassive black hole hidden by vast clouds of dust and debris. It is difficult to probe the shrouded inner regions of a Seyfert galaxy, but researchers using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array – ALMA – and the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer – MUSE – on the Very Large Telescope have captured this view of electrically charged gas being ejected from the black hole’s accretion disk to either side of the core. Cold molecular gas traced by carbon monoxide, seen in red, defines the galaxy’s rotating inner region.
Starburst galaxies transmute gas into new stars up to 1,000 times faster than typical spiral galaxies like the Milky Way. To try and understand why, an international team of astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (ALMA) to dissect a cluster of star-forming clouds at the heart of NGC 253 — one of the nearest starburst galaxies.