News Release Archive:

News Release 97 of 325

May 25, 2010 02:30 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2010-18

Supermassive Black Holes May Frequently Roam Galaxy Centers


Image: Hubble Space Telescope Images of M87

Hubble Space Telescope Images of M87STScI-PRC2010-18

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Astronomers find that the supermassive black hole at the center of the most massive local galaxy (M87) is not where it was expected. Their research, conducted using the Hubble Space Telescope, concludes that the supermassive black hole in M87 is displaced from the galaxy center.

At right is a large-scale image of galaxy M87 taken in 1998 with Hubble's Wide-Field Planetary Camera 2. The two images at left show an image taken in 2006 with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. The position of the supermassive black hole is indicated by the black dot in the lower left panel, and a knot in the jet (HST-1), which was flaring in 2006, is also indicated on this panel. The red dot indicates the center of the galaxy's light distribution, which is offset from the position of the black hole by about 22 light-years.

For more information, contact:

Karen Rhine
Florida Institute of Technology Office of Communications

Daniel Batcheldor
Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Fla.

Eric Perlman
Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Fla.

Object Name: M87

Image Type: Astronomical/Illustration

Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Batcheldor and E. Perlman (Florida Institute of Technology), the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and J. Biretta, W. Sparks, and F.D. Macchetto (STScI)