This Hubble Space Telescope image of galaxy NGC 1275 reveals the intricate and delicate filamentary structures in the gas surrounding the galaxy. The red filaments are composed of cool gas suspended by a magnetic field, and are encircled by the 100-million-degree Fahrenheit hot gas in the center of the Perseus galaxy cluster. Astronomers have been able to gain insight into how galaxies form and evolve through the detailed observations of these filaments, as they give clues to processes such as star formation, gas dynamics, and the interaction between galaxies and their environment. The Hubble image provides a remarkable look at these cosmic structures, where can observe a variety of shapes and colors, from bright blue areas of hot ionized hydrogen gas to dimmer red filaments of cooler gas.
The filaments within the galaxy are dramatic markers of the powerful feedback process that is transferring energy from the central massive black hole outwards into the surrounding hot gas. In this process, cool gas is transported from the central region of the galaxy by radio bubbles that rise in the hot interstellar gas, leading to the formation of the filaments. This feedback process is key in regulating the growth of the big black hole and helps to distribute energy throughout the interstellar medium.
NGC 1275 is one of the closest giant elliptical galaxies, located at a distance of 230 million light-years away from Earth. It lies at the center of the Perseus cluster of galaxies and was captured in 2006 by the Advanced Camera for Surveys using three color filters. This remarkable image showcases the galaxy’s immense size and complexity, with its vibrant hues and billowing clouds of interstellar dust. This beautiful image holds a snapshot of an ancient galaxy, one that has seen untold billions of years of cosmic evolution.