Megamaser in sight

credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (geckzilla)

This galaxy has a far more exciting and futuristic classification than most — it hosts a megamaser. Megamasers are intensely bright, around 100 million times brighter than the masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way. The entire galaxy essentially acts as an astronomical laser that beams out microwave emission rather than visible light (hence the ‘m’ replacing the ‘l’).

A megamaser is a process where some components within a galaxy (like gas clouds) are in the right stimulated physical condition to radiate intense energy (in this case, microwaves).

This megamaser galaxy is named IRAS 16399-0937 and is located over 370 million light-years from Earth. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image belies the galaxy’s energetic nature, instead painting it as a beautiful and serene cosmic rosebud. The image comprises observations captured across various wavelengths by two of Hubble’s instruments: the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), and the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS). … (Hubble)

credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (geckzilla)

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