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Discovered in 1786 by Herschel, NGC4051 is an intermediate spiral galaxy with an inclination of 40 degrees and about 80,000 light years wide. A notable feature is the bright nucleus which is lens shaped from which two main spiral arms emerge. Many star forming (HII) regions, which appear as pink regions, can also be seen.

The nucleus is thought to be powered by a supermassive black hole of about 1.7 million solar masses. In 2007, researchers found that the nucleus was emitting a hot jets of chemical elements including carbon and oxygen. Surprisingly, it was found that these originate very close to the black hole, about five times Neptune’s orbit.  Although only a small fraction (2 to 5%) of the accreting matter is ejected at high speed, this dust and gas is expected to form nebulae which themselves are the breeding ground for new stars and planets.  The researchers concluded that black holes are not only destroyers of life but may be also a source of elements that make life possible.

The LRGB image below has a Ha blend into the red channel and was taken with my Esprit 150 and represents about 16 hours integration time.

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