News Release Archive:

News Release 213 of 1051

May 2, 2012 01:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2012-18

Black Hole Caught Red-handed in a Stellar Homicide


Image: Before/after Flare (GALEX/Pan-STARRS1)

Before/after Flare (GALEX/Pan-STARRS1)STScI-PRC2012-18b

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These images, taken with NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) and the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii, show a brightening inside a galaxy caused by a flare from its nucleus. The arrow in each image points to the galaxy. The flare is a signature of the galaxy's central black hole shredding a star that wandered too close to it.

The top left image, taken by GALEX in 2009, shows the galaxy's location before the flare. The galaxy is not visible in this ultraviolet-light exposure. In the top right image, taken by GALEX on June 23, 2010, the galaxy has become 350 times brighter in ultraviolet light.

The bottom left image, taken by Pan-STARRS1, shows the galaxy (the bright dot in the center) in 2009 before the flare's appearance. The bottom right image, taken by Pan-STARRS1 from June to August 2010, shows the flare from the galaxy nucleus. Note how the light from the flare is much bluer (hotter) than the host galaxy light.

The Pan-STARRS Project is being led by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, and exploits the unique combination of superb observing sites and technical and scientific expertise available in Hawaii. Funding for the development of the observing system has been provided by the United States Air Force Research Laboratory. The PS1 Surveys have been made possible through contributions by the Institute for Astronomy, the University of Hawaii, the Pan-STARRS Project Office, the Max-Planck Society and its participating institutes, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, The Johns Hopkins University, Durham University, the University of Edinburgh, the Queen's University Belfast, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Incorporated, the National Central University of Taiwan, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant No. NNX08AR22G issued through the Planetary Science Division of the NASA Science Mission Directorate.

Image Type: Astronomical/Illustration

Credit: NASA, S. Gezari (The Johns Hopkins University), A. Rest (STScI), and R. Chornock (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)


The above montage includes these images:

GALEX - 2009 Image Type: Astronomical GALEX - 2009 GALEX - June 23, 2010 Image Type: Astronomical GALEX - June 23, 2010 Pan-STARRS1 - 2009 Image Type: Astronomical Pan-STARRS1 - 2009 Pan-STARRS1 - June to August 2010 Image Type: Astronomical Pan-STARRS1 - June to August 2010

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