The Circinus Galaxy is a spiral active galaxy that lies only
15 million light-years away, in the constellation Circinus,
but went unnoticed until 1975 because it lies just 4° from the plane
of the Milky Way and is thus heavily obscured. It is the scene of tumultuous
gas motions, most of them concentrated in two rings. One, about 700 light-years
from the center, appears to be undergoing tremendous bursts of star
formation. An inner ring, only 130 light years from the center, almost
certainly encircles a massive black hole.
The photo shown here was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.