NGC 1068. NGC 1068 is the prototype of a Seyfert Type 2 active galaxy. In active galaxies, typically the core shines with the brightness of a billion solar luminosities, and the brightness of the core fluctuates over the period of a few days implying that the energy is being released from a region only a few light-days in extent. The most likely source for this enormous amount of energy is a black hole with a total mass of 108 M.
In the case of NGC 1068, previous HST observations (left) have shown a number of hot gaseous clouds ionized or heated by the intense radiation to a diverging beam or "cone" of emission. The new HST observations (right) show with unprecedented clarity a much more extensive area of emission, produced by radiation from the active nucleus. An incredible wealth of new and previously unsuspected filamentary detail is also revealed in this near-nuclear gas, embedded within the diffuse emission. The knots and streamers of emission will enable the geometry of this nuclear region to be understood, and will offer new information on the nature of the clouds themselves.