This diagram shows the geometry of a warped disk of dust surrounding a suspected black hole in the active galaxy NGC 6251. The diagram is based on NASA Hubble Space Telescope images of the disk which reveal that only one side reflects light emitted from a suspected black hole, hence the disk is warped.
Such a warp could be due to gravitational perturbations in the galaxy's nucleus that keep the disk from being perfectly flat, or from precession of the rotation axis of the black hole relative to the rotation axis of the galaxy.
Perpendicular to the disk is a jet of high-energy particles blasted into space along the black hole's spin axis.
Object Name: NGC 6251
Image Type: Illustration
Illustration: James Gitlin (STScI)
To access available information and downloadable versions of images in this news release, click on any of the images below: