Home > Astronomy, Black Holes, Galaxies, General Astronomy > Monster Galaxy May Have Been Stirred Up By Black-Hole Mischief

Monster Galaxy May Have Been Stirred Up By Black-Hole Mischief


Giant elliptical galaxy in the center of this image, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Postman (STScI), T. Lauer (NOAO), and the CLASH team

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have obtained a remarkable new view of a whopper of an elliptical galaxy that may have been puffed up by the actions of one or more black holes in its core.

Spanning a little more than one million light-years, the galaxy is about 10 times the diameter of our Milky Way galaxy. The bloated galaxy is a member of an unusual class of galaxies with a diffuse core filled with a fog of starlight where there would normally be a concentrated peak of light around a central black hole. Viewing the core is like seeing a city with no downtown, just houses sprinkled across a vast landscape.

Astronomers used Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3 to measure the amount of starlight across the galaxy, dubbed A2261-BCG. The Hubble observations revealed that the galaxy’s puffy core, measuring about 10,000 light-years, is the largest yet seen.

Astronomers have proposed two possibilities for the puffy core. One scenario is that a pair of merging black holes gravitationally stirred up and scattered the stars. Another idea is that the merging black holes were ejected from the core. Left without an anchor, the stars began spreading out even more, creating the puffy-looking core.

Full Story: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2012/24/full/
Also: http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1216/

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