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Hubble Finds Relic of a Shredded Galaxy
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Hubble Finds Relic of a Shredded Galaxy

February 19, 2012
This spectacular edge-on galaxy, called ESO 243-49, is home to an intermediate-mass black hole that may have been purloined from a cannibalized dwarf galaxy. The black hole, with an estimated mass of 50 million Suns, lies above the galactic plane. This is an unlikely place for such a massive back hole to exist, unless it belonged to a small galaxy that was gravitationally torn apart by ESO 243-49.

The circle identifies a unique X-ray source that pinpoints the black hole. The X-rays are believed to be radiation from a hot accretion disc around the black hole. The blue light not only comes from a hot accretion disc, but also from a cluster of hot young stars that formed around the black hole. The galaxy is 290 million light-years from Earth. Hubble can’t resolve the stars individually because the suspected cluster is too far away. Their presence is inferred from the color and brightness of the light coming from the black hole’s location.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and S. Farrell (University of Sydney, Australia and University of Leicester, UK)


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