Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2001 May 16
Explanation: Are black holes the cause of X-rays that pour out from the centre of the Circinus galaxy? A new high-resolution image from the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory has resolved the inner regions of this nearby galaxy into several smaller sources. The image is shown above in representative-colour. Extended X-ray emission from the centre appears to match optical light and appears consistent with a model where hot gas is escaping from a supermassive black hole at Circinus' centre. At least one of the other sources varies its X-ray brightness as expected from a binary star system, indicating that the system is small yet massive, and giving credence to a model where a black hole is surrounded by doughnut-shaped ring. The region shown spans about 5000 light-years across.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.