Location: Constellation Centaurus
Coordinates: 13 25 27.61507 -43 01 08.8053
Distance: ~12,000,000 ly
Active peculiar-type galaxy with a center region obscured by a broad dark dust lane when viewed in visible light. Its radio output (orange) reveals a huge double-lobed structure extending almost a million light years in each direction. These lobes also emit gamma-rays (purple) at levels more than ten times greater than their radio output. The lobes are filled by particle jets moving near the speed of light and ejected by a supermassive black hole estimated at hundreds of millions of times the sun’s mass.
Two or more cosmic-scale plasma currents or “Birkeland filaments” running along intergalactic magnetic field lines come within close proximity of one another. When these currents are moving in the same direction they attract one another with a force that increases proportionally as they are drawn closer together. The filaments begin to rotate and constrict around each other until their combined powerful electromagnetic fields generate an enormous z-pinch that accelerates trapped intergalactic plasma to relativistic speeds and in opposite directions creating the observed jets and lobes. These intertwining currents are also responsible for the overall formation and structure of the galaxy including the orbital dynamics of its satellite galaxies.