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Core of spiral galaxy M51

Core of spiral galaxy M51

R854/0035

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Credit

NASA / ESA / STSCI / H.FORD, JHU AND FOS TEAM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / ESA / STSCI / H.FORD, JHU AND FOS TEAM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Black hole evidence. Optical image of the core of the Whirlpool galaxy M51 (NGC 5194) taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. It shows, for the first time, an immense ring of dust and cold gas (the x-shaped dark lanes at centre), which is thought to surround and hide a giant black hole of about 1 million solar masses in the centre of the galaxy. The ring forms an accretion disc of gas, about 100 light years across, falling towards the black hole. The two brighter areas perpendicular to the widest lane represent two jets of particles accelerated by the black hole.

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