X-ray/optical image of Arp 147, showing ring of black holes
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/S.Rappaport et al, Optical: NASA/STScI

The Ring

You won't die if you see this ring; at least not if you always keep a safe distance. But don't get too close to one of the pink jewels in the ring on the right. If you do you'll be stretched hair thin before being crushed out of existence, since these pink jewels are actually black holes. But you might see some spectacular sights before you befall your fate. The spectacular ring of black holes shown in the composite Chandra X-ray image (in pink) and Hubble optical image above were produced by a violent collision between the spiral galaxy pictured above right and the elliptical galaxy on the left. The tremendous release of gravitational power as one galaxy splashed through the other sparked a burst of star formation. The most massive stars that formed have already died, ending their lives as powerful supernovae explosions, and leaving behind X-ray emitting black holes.
Published: March 21, 2011

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Sunday, 27-Mar-2011 16:31:35 EDT