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News Release 281 of 296

June 8, 1992 09:30 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1992-17

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Resolves a Dark "x" Across the Nucleus of M51

An American Astronomical Society Meeting Release

June 8, 1992: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has provided astronomers with what may be their first direct view of an immense ring of dust which fuels a massive black hole at the heart of the spiral galaxy M51, located 20 million light-years away. Surprisingly, they found that the ring is standing almost perpendicularly to the relatively flat spiral galaxy, like a top spinning on its side with respect to the floor. Even more surprising is the discovery of a secondary ring or dust lane which is contrary to all expectations.

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Credit: H. Ford (JHU/STScI), the Faint Object Spectrograph IDT, and NASA