Scientists who spotted a giant gas blob orbiting the black hole at the center of the Milky Way say they'll get a first-ever close-up view of matter falling into a supermassive black hole.
Black holes 10 billion times the sun's mass have been found. The discovery could help write the history of galaxy formation and evolution over the universe's 13.7 billion-year history.
All large galaxies are thought to harbor super-massive black holes at their hearts that contain millions to billions of times the mass of our sun. Until now, the largest black hole known was a mammoth dwelling in the giant elliptical galaxy Messier 87. Now research suggests black holes in two nearby galaxies are even bigger.
The ALMA radio telescope array set to come on line this week will give astronomers an unprecedented look into areas of the universe obscured from other telescopes – from star nurseries in other galaxies to the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.
Scientists have found evidence of supermassive black holes at the core of the earliest galaxies, a discovery that could shape theories about galaxy formation.
The NASA image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope on Aug. 10, 2008 shows a small portion of the Tarantula nebula near the star cluster NGC 2074. The region is a frontier of raw stellar creation, perhaps triggered by a nearby supernova explosion. It lies about 170,000 light-years away from Earth and is one of the most active star-forming regions in our local group of galaxies.
A schoolteacher discovered a blob of glowing hydrogen gas – called Hanny's Voorwerp in her honor – that astronomers say points to a nearly-invisible quenched quasar.
This image by the Hubble Space Telescope shows a dramatic view of the spiral galaxy M51, dubbed the Whirlpool Galaxy. Seen in near-infrared light, most of the starlight has been removed, revealing the Whirlpool's skeletal dust structure. This new image is the sharpest view of the dense dust in M51. The narrow lanes of dust revealed by Hubble reflect the galaxy's moniker, the Whirlpool Galaxy, as if they were swirling toward the galaxy's core.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has captured a glowing stellar nursery within a dark globule that is opaque at visible light. These new images pierce through the obscuration to reveal the birth of new protostars and young stars never before seen. The newborn stars form in the dense gas because of compression by the wind and radiation from a nearby massive star. The winds from this unseen star are also responsible for producing the spectacular filamentary appearance of the globule itself, which resembles that of a flying dragon.
Milky Way bubbles: The mysterious structures each span 25,000 light-years across, meaning that together they cover more than half the area of the visible sky, and are emitting gamma rays, the highest-energy wavelength of light.