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