Chandra Rings around M87
Credit: Hua Feng, Shuang-Nan Zhang, Yu-Qing Lou, and Ti-Pei Li, 2004, The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 607, pg. L95

Three Ring Virgo

One basic tenet is that physics is the same on the scale of the classroom laboratory and on the cosmic scale. This principle has been illustrated many times, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory perhaps just found what might be another example. A new X-ray image of the galaxy M87 in the constellation Virgo reveals the presence of 3 apparent rings associated with the galaxy's core and jet. These rings are shown by dotted lines in the image above. These rings look suspiciously like the beautiful rings around an exploded star, SN 1987a, as seen in Hubble Space Telescope images. The similarity in shape may suggest similar physical processes at play, though looks can be deceiving. In the case of SN 1987a scientists believe the ring structure was produced by the interactions of fast and slow outflows of matter, lit up by the explosion marking the death of a star. Scientist are unsure of the origin of the rings around M87 - perhaps they were produced by the merger of two supermassive black holes?

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:11:21 EDT