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.
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 100-inch diameter telescope to study the universe at infrared wavelengths that cannot be detected from ground-based observatories. SOFIA’s Science Cycle 5, which runs from February 2017 through January 2018, spans the entire field of astronomy from planetary science to extragalactic investigations.
A team of astronomers has found an enigmatic gas cloud, called CO-0.40-0.22, only 200 light-years away from the centre of the Milky Way. The cloud contains gas with a very wide range of speeds. The so-called velocity dispersion is best explained by the gravitational attraction of an intermediate mass black hole. If that is the case, then this is the first detection of such a body.