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News Release 286 of 297

April 8, 1992 12:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1992-09

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Images the Dense Nucleus of Galaxy M32

April 8, 1992: Astronomers report that they have found new evidence that a black hole weighing 3 million times the mass of the Sun exists at the center of the nearby elliptical galaxy M32, based on images obtained with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The images show that the stars in M32 become extremely concentrated toward the nucleus. This central structure resembles the gravitational "signature" of a massive black hole. The presence of a black hole in an ordinary galaxy like M32 may mean that inactive black holes are common to the centers of galaxies. The new HST images show that M32 is an interesting "laboratory" for testing theories of the formation of massive black holes.

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Credit: Tod R. Lauer/NASA