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Centaurus A
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Peering deep inside Centaurus A (NGC 5128), the closest active galaxy to Earth at 10 million light-years away, the Spitzer Space Telescope's penetrating infrared cameras recorded this startling vista in February 2004.
About 1,000 light-years across, the twisted cosmic dust cloud apparently shaped like a parallelogram is likely the result of a smaller spiral galaxy falling into the giant Centaurus A.
The magnitude 7.0 galaxy is situated in the M83 group of galaxies.


Position (2000): RA = 13 : 25.5 Dec = -43 : 01

The parallelogram lies along the active galaxy's central band of dust and stars visible in more familiar optical images. Astronomers believe that the striking geometric shape represents an approximately edge-on view of the infalling spiral galaxy's disk in the process of being twisted and warped by the interaction. Ultimately, debris from the ill-fated spiral galaxy should provide fuel for the supermassive black hole lurking at the centre of Centaurus A.A.

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