Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hubble Uncovers Dust Disk Around A Massive Black Hole

Date:
June 22, 1998
Source:
Space Telescope Science Institute
Summary:
Resembling a gigantic hubcap in space, a 3,700 light-year-diameter dust disk encircles a 300 million solar-mass black hole in the center of the elliptical galaxy NGC 7052.

Resembling a gigantic hubcap in space, a 3,700 light-year-diameter dust disk encircles a 300 million solar-mass black hole in the center of the elliptical galaxy NGC 7052.

The disk, possibly a remnant of an ancient galaxy collision, will be swallowed up by the black hole in several billion years.

Because the front end of the disk eclipses more stars than the back, it appears darker. Also, because dust absorbs blue light more effectively than red light, the disk is redder than the rest of the galaxy (this same phenomenon causes the Sun to appear red when it sets in a smoggy afternoon).

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image was taken with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, in visible light. Details as small as 50 light-years across can be seen.

Hubble's Faint Object Spectrograph (replaced by the STIS spectrograph in 1997) was used to observe hydrogen and nitrogen emission lines from gas in the disk. Hubble measurements show that the disk rotates like an enormous carousel, 341,000 miles per hour (155 kilometers per second) at 186 light-years from the center.

The rotation velocity provides a direct measure of the gravitational force acting on the gas by the black hole. Though 300 million times the mass of our Sun, the black hole is still only 0.05 per cent of the total mass of the NGC 7052 galaxy. Despite its size, the disk is 100 times less massive than the black hole. Still, it contains enough raw material to make three million sun-like stars.

The bright spot in the center of the disk is the combined light of stars that have crowded around the black hole due to its strong gravitational pull. This stellar concentration matches theoretical models linking stellar density to a central black hole's mass.

NGC 7052 is a strong source of radio emission and has two oppositely directed 'jets' emanating from the nucleus. (The jets are streams of energetic electrons moving in a strong magnetic field and unleashing radio energy).

Because the jets in NGC 7052 are not perpendicular to the disk, it may indicate that the black hole and the dust disk in NGC 7052 do not have a common origin. One possibility is that the dust was acquired from a collision with a small neighboring galaxy, after the black hole had already formed.

NGC 7052 is located in the constellation of Vulpecula, 191 million light-years from Earth.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Space Telescope Science Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Space Telescope Science Institute. "Hubble Uncovers Dust Disk Around A Massive Black Hole." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/06/980622061538.htm>.
Space Telescope Science Institute. (1998, June 22). Hubble Uncovers Dust Disk Around A Massive Black Hole. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/06/980622061538.htm
Space Telescope Science Institute. "Hubble Uncovers Dust Disk Around A Massive Black Hole." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/06/980622061538.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

AP (July 23, 2014) The Progress 56 cargo ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday. NASA says it will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins