A NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the core of the Seyfert galaxy Markarian 315 reveals two nuclei located approximately 6,000 light-years apart. (Seyfert galaxies are a class of spiral galaxy with extremely bright nuclei that are thought to be powered by massive black holes accreting matter.)
The brighter member of the pair is the energetic core of the galaxy which probably contains a black hole. The fainter companion is considered to be the core of a galaxy in the process of merging with Markarian 315.
The image helps confirm that galaxy mergers may be one mechanism for driving gas deep into the heart of a galaxy, according to astronon~t,rs. This raw material fuels a massive black hole, theorized to be the "central engine" in Seyfert galaxies and other active galactic nuclei.
The photograph, taken with HST's Planetary Camera, was presented at the 1 81st Meeting of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Phoenix, AZ on January 7, 1993.
Photo Credit: J. MacKenty (STScl), and NASA.