Hubble Spots Supermassive, Super-Hungry Galaxy

First Posted: Jan 11, 2016 10:40 AM EST

NASA/ ESA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured the image of a supermassive and super-hungry galaxy that is 65 million light-years away. The spiral galaxy was identified as NGC 4845 and is located in the constellation Virgo (The Virgin).

NGC 4845's spiral structure revealed a flat and dust-mottled disk, which surrounded a bright galactic bulge, according to a news release. The galaxy's glowing center holds a large version of a black hole, known as a supermassive black hole. A black hole's presence in NGC 4845 could be an effect of the galaxy's innermost stars, which are exposed to a strong gravitational pull from the black hole. These stars move around the center of the galaxy much faster than usual.

Astronomers were able to determine the mass of NGC 4845's centered black hole by studying the movements of these stars. They estimate that this black hole was hundreds of thousands times heavier than the sun. The same technique was also used to find a supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, at the center of the Milky Way, which was four million times the mass of the sun.

NGC 4845's galactic core is supermassive and it is also super hungry. While observing another galaxy in 2013, researchers had noticed a violent flare at the center of NGC 4845, where the central black hole was tearing and feeding off an object that was more massive than Jupiter. NGC 4845's core gobbled the large planetary body, which strayed too close to the hungry core. 

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