NGC 1097 is a beautiful barred spiral galaxy approximately 45 million light years away in the constellation Fornax. The small companion galaxy NGC 1097A interacts with NGC 1097 causing tidal distortions in its disk.
NGC 1097 is also a Seyfert galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its center. The black hole weighs in at 140 million solar masses. The galaxy is also peculiar, because four jets emanate from its nucleus. Two of them stand out in the color image, a third is only apparent in the contrast enhanced black and white image. Despite 28 hours of exposure a fourth jet is not visible in this image. We believe its absence is due to an issue with the flats.
An interesting question is why are there four jets? A detailed study of the energy distribution in the brightest jet shows that the jets are not ionized matter accelerated to relativistic speeds by the supermassive black hole in the nucleus. Instead, the data shows that the jets are composed of stars. This leads to the current best explanation, that the jets are remnants of a previous merger with a dwarf galaxy.
Image data: LRHaGB mosaic with L=22x1200s, R=13x1200s, G=16x1200s, B=19x1200s, Ha=7x2400s 28.0 hours in total
80cm f/7 AstroOptik Keller corrected Cassegrain FLI Proline 16803 Astrodon LRGB Gen-II Filters
Prompt 7 CTIO/UNC Chile, remote controlled
Image processing: Konstantin Buchhold
The central portion of NGC 1097 at 100% resolution
Inverted contrast enhanced image at 25% resolution
The complete image at 80% resolution