Wednesday, August 05, 2009

NASA's Spitzer Images Out-of-this-World Galaxy

NASA's Spitzer Images Out-of-this-World Galaxy (7/23/09)
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has imaged a wild creature of the dark — a coiled galaxy with an eye-like object at its center.

The galaxy, called NGC 1097, is located 50 million light-years away. It is spiral-shaped like our Milky Way, with long, spindly arms of stars. The "eye" at the center of the galaxy is actually a monstrous black hole surrounded by a ring of stars. In this color-coded infrared view from Spitzer, the area around the invisible black hole is blue and the ring of stars, white.

The black hole is huge, about 100 million times the mass of our sun, and is feeding off gas and dust along with the occasional unlucky star. Our Milky Way's central black hole is tame by comparison, with a mass of a few million suns.




NGC 1097 – click for 1000×1000 image


More: here, here, here

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2 Comments:

Blogger Scientistbill said...

I was wondering why a black hole would look so bright white. Maybe it is a very large sun.

8/07/2009 06:00:00 AM  
Blogger Charles Daney said...

I was wondering why a black hole would look so bright white. Maybe it is a very large sun.


Supermassive black holes found in the centers of galaxies do not glow the way a star does, from internal energy production. Instead, they cause such extreme turbulence in the matter falling into them or orbiting very close to them that this external matter is heated to an extreme degree.

I've posted about this before, such as here and here.

Black holes that are extremely "bright" could not be stars. Many theoretical studies and simulations show that stars heavier than about 120 times the Sun's mass are too unstable to form. But supermassive black holes have masses that are billions of times the Sun's mass.

8/08/2009 02:32:00 PM  

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