A Pair of Black Holes


CircinusThe magenta spots in this image show a couple of black holes in the Circinus galaxy—the supermassive black hole at its heart and a smaller one closer to the edge. The smaller one belongs to a class of objects called ultraluminous X-ray sources, or ULXs. ULXs are black holes actively feeding off material drawn in from a partner star.

The ULX was spotted by NuSTAR which sees high-energy X-ray light. The magenta X-ray data in the image above come from the NuSTAR and are overlaid on a visible/infrared image from the Digitized Sky Survey.

The Circinus galaxy is located 13 million light-years away in the southern sky constellation Circinus.

Image Credit: NASA

Between Two Black Holes


Yesterday, I posted a video showing simulation of a binary pair of black holes orbiting one another.. This simulation shows a point of view between the two black holes. The black holes distort the view of the background stars, capturing their light to produce black hole silhouettes. A distinctive feature called a photon ring outlines the black holes. The background is a mosaic of the images covering the entire sky as observed by ESA’s Gaia mission.

Video Credit: NASA

 

Looking into a Black Hole


A supercomputer crunched the data used to make this animation which takes you to the inner zone of the accretion disk of a stellar-mass black hole. Gas is heated to over 10,000,000 °C as it spirals into the black hole glows in low-energy, soft X-rays. As the gas approaches the event horizon, its orbital motion nears the speed of light. Hard X-rays up to hundreds of times more powerful than those in the disk are generated in the corona, a region of tenuous and much hotter gas around the disk. Temperatures in the corona reach billions of degrees.

Video Credit: NASA

NGC 3185


potw1326Spiral galaxy NGC 3185 is about 80 million light-years away from us in the constellation of Leo (the Lion). The galaxy’s spiral arms swirl outward from the center of the galaxy toward the rim where they join a blue disk of young stars. At the galactic center of is a small but very bright nucleus containing a supermassive black hole. Supermassive black holes have masses many thousands of times that of our Sun, and they become active as matter falls towards them. When this happens the black hole lights up, sending away streams of particles and radiation at almost the speed of light.

ML_GalaxyNGC 3185 is a member of a four-galaxy group known as Hickson 44. NGC 3190 is a somewhat more famous member of the group. Apple used a blue-tinted image of it as the default wallpaper for its Mountain Lion operating system.

Image Credits: NASA, Apple

A Stellar Death Spiral


Roughly 290 million years ago, a star more or less like the Sun got too close to the central black hole of its galaxy. Intense tides tore the star apart and the resulting outburst of visible, ultraviolet and X-ray light first reached Earth in 2014. Observations from the Swift satellite have mapped out how and where these different wavelengths were produced as the shattered star’s debris circled the black hole. This animation illustrates how debris from a tidally disrupted star collided with itself, creating shock waves that emit ultraviolet and visible light. According to the Swift observations, that debris then took about a month to fall back to the black hole, where they produced changes in its X-ray emission that correlated with the earlier UV and visible light bursts.

Video Credit: NASA

A Deep View in X-Rays


chandra-deep-field-southMade with over 7 million seconds (about 11-1/2 weeks) of Chandra X-Ray Observatory observing time, this image is part of the Chandra Deep Field-South and is the deepest X-ray image ever obtained. This look at the early Universe in X-rays gives astronomers the best look yet at the growth of black holes over billions of years starting soon after the Big Bang. In this image, low, medium, and high-energy X-rays that Chandra detects are shown as red, green, and blue respectively.

Image Credit: NASA