Printer Friendly

Checking out Hubble's new eyes.

It took just 20 minutes for the Hubble Space Telescope's new imaging spectrograph to confirm the existence of a black hole at the center of M84, a galaxy 50 million light-years from Earth. The zigzag pattern (left) depicts the speeds of orbiting gas and stars, measured on opposite sides of the galactic center at distances ranging from 1,500 light-years (top and bottom of the image) to 26 light-years (center line). Green and blue indicate material moving toward Earth; yellow and red indicate material moving away.

Close to the galaxy's center, the speeds of orbiting matter skyrocket to 400 kilometers per second, pushing the emissions to the far red and far blue. The sharp increase in speed can only be explained by the presence of a central black hole at least as massive as 300 million suns tugging on the gas and stars, reported Bruce E. Woodgate of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., at a press briefing this week.

Unlike its two predecessors, which laboriously measured speeds one point at a time, the new spectrograph records a series of velocities simultaneously, enabling astronomers to conduct a rapid census of nearby galaxies and to hunt for smaller black holes than could previously be detected

Despite problems that could cut its 4.5-year intended lifetime by more than half (SN: 5/3/97, p. 272), a second instrument installed on Hubble last February is also proving its mettle. The near-infrared camera and multi-object spectrograph penetrated the dust cloaking OMC-1, part of a stellar nursery in the Orion nebula (right). The bright central object is the massive star BN; molecular hydrogen (blue blobs at lower left) may indicate material thrust from nascent stars yet to emerge from their dusty cocoons.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Hubble Space Telescope's new imaging spectrograph finds black hole at center of M84 galaxy
Author:Cowen, Ron
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 17, 1997
Words:290
Previous Article:Health may succumb to grief reaction.
Next Article:Grim prospects for flood-ravaged R&D.
Topics:


Related Articles
New Hubble trouble: spectrograph awry.
Galactic black hole: X marks the spot?
Monster black holes.
Orbiting Hubble eyes active galaxy's disk.
Repaired Hubble finds giant black hole.
Hubble finds an off-center black hole.
New view of quasars sheds light on origin.
X-ray Data Reveal Black Holes Galore.
Are midsize black holes the missing link? (Hole in the Middle).
One galaxy, two gravitational beasts. (Cosmic Couple).

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters