Explosive tendencies

Don’t be fooled! The subject of this Picture of the Week, ESO 580-49, may seem tranquil and unassuming, but this spiral galaxy actually displays some explosive tendencies.

In October of 2011, a cataclysmic burst of high-energy gamma-ray radiation — known as a gamma-ray burst, or GRB — was detected coming from the region of sky containing ESO 580-49. Astronomers believe that the galaxy was the host of the GRB, given that the chance of a coincidental alignment between the two is roughly 1 in 10 million. At a distance of around 185 million light-years from Earth, it was the second-closest gamma-ray burst (GRB) ever detected.

Gamma-ray bursts are among the brightest events in the cosmos, occasionally outshining the combined gamma-ray output of the entire observable Universe for a few seconds. The exact cause of the GRB that probably occurred within this galaxy, catalogued as GRB 111005A, remains a mystery. Several events are known to lead to GRBs, but none of these explanations appear to fit the bill in this case. Astronomers have therefore suggested that ESO 580-49 hosted a new type of GRB explosion — one that has not yet been characterised.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA

About the Image

Id:potw1749a
Type:Observation
Release date:4 December 2017, 06:00
Size:3221 x 2251 px

About the Object

Name:ESO 580-49
Type:Early Universe : Galaxy : Type : Spiral
Distance:190 million light years
Constellation:Libra
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
3.5 MB
Screensize JPEG
195.7 KB

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Wallpapers

1024x768
252.8 KB
1280x1024
487.9 KB
1600x1200
768.3 KB
1920x1200
984.1 KB
2048x1536
1.4 MB

Coordinates

Position (RA):14 53 7.94
Position (Dec):-19° 44' 10.70"
Field of view:2.13 x 1.49 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 8.0° left of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
B
438 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
B
438 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
V
606 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
V
606 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Infrared
H
1.6 μm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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