Release 59 of 89

Hubble Records a Black Hole's Signature

Release date: May 12, 1997 11:00 AM (EDT)
Release type: Early Release Observation

The colorful "zigzag" on the right is not the work of a flamboyant artist, but the signature of a super-massive black hole in the center of galaxy M84, discovered by the Hubble telescope's imaging spectrograph.

The image on the left, also taken by Hubble, shows the core of the galaxy where the suspected black hole dwells. In a single exposure, astronomers mapped the motions of gas in the grip of the black hole's powerful gravitational pull by aligning Hubble's spectroscopic slit across the nucleus.