This is an illustration of how the night sky might look to a dweller in the core of galaxy NGC 4261, which harbors an 800-light-year-wide disk of dust and 1.2 billion-solar-mass black hole.
This imaginary view is from a hypothetical planet inside the dust dusk, looking toward the black hole. The black hole's white-hot glow from super-heated gas is reddened by intervening dust. A "lighthouse beam" from the hot accretion disk around the black hole, along with invisible radio jets, radiates above and below the hole at right angles to the dark dust disk encircling the hole. This dark, dusty disk bisects the sky, blocking out light from the star behind it, and reddening starlight traveling near it by optical scattering - much in the same way the sunlight turns red at sunset by scatter from dust in our atmosphere.
The imaginary planet, and surrounding stars, are destined to be swallowed by the black hole, and material in the disk spirals into its gravitational abyss.
Object Name: NGC 4261
Image Type: Artwork
Illustration by: J. Gitlin (Space Telescope Science Institute)
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