A zoom diving deep into the nucleus of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) then dissolving into an animation of a concentration of red stars. Pushing deeper into the animation reveals a disk of young blue stars swirling around a black hole. Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) revealed this disk of young blue stars that were swirling around a black hole in M31 in much the same way that the planets in our solar system revolve around the Sun. Astronomers are perplexed about how the pancake-shaped disk of stars could form so close to a giant black hole. In such a hostile environment, the black hole's tidal forces should tear matter apart, making it difficult for gas and dust to collapse and form stars. The observations, astronomers say, may provide clues to the activities in the cores of more distant galaxies.
Publication: September 20, 2005