About this image

This spectacular edge-on galaxy, called ESO 243-49, is believed to be home to an intermediate-mass black hole that may have been stripped off of a cannibalized dwarf galaxy. The estimated 20,000-solar-mass black hole 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 disk around the black hole. The blue light not only comes from a hot accretion disk, but also from the possible existence of 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.

Annotated, Astronomical, Black Holes, Exotic, Galaxies, Hubble Telescope, Spiral Galaxies


Credit: NASA, ESA, and S. Farrell (Sydney Institute for Astronomy, University of Sydney)