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Hubble gazes into a black hole of puzzling lightness

Date:
January 13, 2017
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
The beautiful spiral galaxy visible in the center of the image is known as RX J1140.1+0307, a galaxy in the Virgo constellation imaged by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and it presents an interesting puzzle. At first glance, this galaxy appears to be a normal spiral galaxy, much like the Milky Way.
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The beautiful spiral galaxy visible in the center of the image is known as RX J1140.1+0307, a galaxy in the Virgo constellation imaged by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

The beautiful spiral galaxy visible in the center of the image is known as RX J1140.1+0307, a galaxy in the Virgo constellation imaged by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and it presents an interesting puzzle. At first glance, this galaxy appears to be a normal spiral galaxy, much like the Milky Way, but first appearances can be deceptive!

The Milky Way galaxy, like most large galaxies, has a supermassive black hole at its center, but some galaxies are centered on lighter, intermediate-mass black holes.

RX J1140.1+0307 is such a galaxy -- in fact, it is centered on one of the lowest black hole masses known in any luminous galactic core.

What puzzles scientists about this particular galaxy is that the calculations don't add up. With such a relatively low mass for the central black hole, models for the emission from the object cannot explain the observed spectrum.

There must be other mechanisms at play in the interactions between the inner and outer parts of the accretion disk surrounding the black hole.


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Materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Hubble gazes into a black hole of puzzling lightness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170113155406.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2017, January 13). Hubble gazes into a black hole of puzzling lightness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170113155406.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Hubble gazes into a black hole of puzzling lightness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170113155406.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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