Credit: NASA/IoA/A.Fabian et al.

Perseus and the Gorgon's Head

The Gorgons, in Greek mythology, were a trio of hideous sisters. The best known Gorgon, Medusa, was killed by the hero Perseus. A recent observation in the constellation Perseus by the Chandra X-ray observatory apparently found the Gorgon's head. Chandra obtained the above image, which apparently shows a skull staring into space. In reality, this "skull" is produced by variations in X-ray emission due to hot gas near the Perseus cluster of galaxies. The bright spot at the center of the image is thought signal the presence of a supermassive black hole at the core of Perseus A, the largest galaxy in the cluster. The "eyes" are thought to be buoyant magnetized bubbles of energetic particles produced near the black hole - each is nearly as big as the Milky Way. This Gorgon is a cannibal too - the Gorgon's "nose" is thought to be a dark spot produced by cool gas in a galaxy being swallowed by the central black hole in Perseus A.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified July 23, 2000