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NASA's Swift Finds 'Missing' Active Galaxies

Most large galaxies contain a giant central black hole. In an active galaxy, matter falling toward the supermassive black hole powers high-energy emissions so intense that two classes of active galaxies, quasars and blazars, rank as the most luminous objects in the universe. Thick clouds of dust and gas near the central black hole screens out ultraviolet, optical and low-energy (or soft) X-ray light. Although there are many different types of active galaxy, astronomers explain the different observed properties based on how the galaxy angles into our line of sight. We view the brightest ones nearly face on, but as the angle increases, the surrounding ring of gas and dust absorbs increasing amounts of the black hole's emissions.
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More information on this topic available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/swift/bursts/active-galactic-nucleus.html

Short, narrated video.    Short, narrated video.

For complete transcript, click here.
Duration: 2.7 minutes
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What we see from an active galaxy's black hole depends on our viewing angle. Seen edge-on, the dense clouds of dust and gas around the central black hole prevent all but the most penetrating radiation to reach us.  Artist's interpretation.    What we see from an active galaxy's black hole depends on our viewing angle. Seen edge-on, the dense clouds of dust and gas around the central black hole prevent all but the most penetrating radiation to reach us. Artist's interpretation.
Duration: 16.0 seconds
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  1280x720 (30 fps) QT         7 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         7 MB
  960x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   4 MB
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         4 MB
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View of AGN with center visible    View of AGN with center visible

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View of AGN with center occluded by edge    View of AGN with center occluded by edge

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A newfound population of heavily absorbed active galaxies (orange curve) is thought to make the greatest contribution to the cosmic X-ray background (light blue). Both have similar spectral shapes and peak at similar energies. Adding in the known contributions from less-absorbed active galaxies (yellow and purple), appears to fully account for the background.    A newfound population of heavily absorbed active galaxies (orange curve) is thought to make the greatest contribution to the cosmic X-ray background (light blue). Both have similar spectral shapes and peak at similar energies. Adding in the known contributions from less-absorbed active galaxies (yellow and purple), appears to fully account for the background.

Available formats:
  2559 x 1710     JPEG   939 KB


A newfound population of heavily absorbed active galaxies (orange curve) is thought to make the greatest contribution to the cosmic X-ray background (light blue). Both have similar spectral shapes and peak at similar energies. Adding in the known contributions from less-absorbed active galaxies (yellow and purple), appears to fully account for the background. No Labels    A newfound population of heavily absorbed active galaxies (orange curve) is thought to make the greatest contribution to the cosmic X-ray background (light blue). Both have similar spectral shapes and peak at similar energies. Adding in the known contributions from less-absorbed active galaxies (yellow and purple), appears to fully account for the background. No Labels

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  2559 x 1710     JPEG   876 KB


Narrated animation describing active galaxies. Credit: NASA/Sonoma State Univ./Dana Berry (Skyworks Digital)    Narrated animation describing active galaxies.

Credit: NASA/Sonoma State Univ./Dana Berry (Skyworks Digital)
Duration: 2.8 minutes
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Short URL to This Page:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?10698
Animation Number:10698
Completed:2010-12-08
Animators:Scott Wiessinger (UMBC) (Lead)
 Michael McClare (HTSI)
 Donna Cox (AVL NCSA/University of Illinois)
 Chris Smith (HTSI)
Video Editor:Scott Wiessinger (UMBC)
Narrator:Scott Wiessinger (UMBC)
Producer:Scott Wiessinger (UMBC)
Scientists:Marco Ajello (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)
 Davide Burlon (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics)
Writer:Francis Reddy (SPSYS)
Platform/Sensor/Data Set:Swift
Series:Narrated Movies
 Goddard Shorts
 Astrophysics Animations
 Astrophysics Stills
 Astrophysics Features
Goddard TV Tape:G2011-009 -- Swift Survey Finds 'Missing' Active Galaxies
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. However, each image should be credited as indicated above.
 
Keywords:
SVS >> Galaxy
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Satellite
DLESE >> Space science
SVS >> X-ray
SVS >> Black Hole
SVS >> Active Galaxy
SVS >> Quasar
SVS >> Universe
SVS >> Edited Feature
SVS >> Swift
DLESE >> Narrated
SVS >> Blazar
SVS >> Active Galactic Nucleus
NASA Science >> Universe
 
 


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Many of our multimedia items use the GCMD keywords. These keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0

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