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Say hello to spiral galaxy NGC 1097 About 45 million light-years away, in another corner…

Say hello to spiral galaxy NGC 1097 About 45 million light-years away, in another corner…

Say hello to spiral galaxy NGC 1097 👋

About 45 million light-years away, in another corner of the cosmos, lies spiral galaxy NGC 1097. Though this Hubble Space Telescope image zooms in toward the core, the galaxy’s vast spiral arms span over 100,000 light-years as they silently sweep through space. At the heart of this galaxy lurks a black hole that is about 100 million times as massive as the Sun.

The supermassive black hole is voraciously eating up surrounding matter, which forms a doughnut-shaped ring around it. Matter that’s pulled into the black hole releases powerful radiation, making the star-filled center of the galaxy even brighter. Hubble’s observations have led to the discovery that while the material that is drawn toward NGC 1097’s black hole may be doomed to die, new stars are bursting into life in the ring around it.

This sparkling spiral galaxy is especially interesting to both professional scientists and amateur astronomers. It is a popular target for supernova hunters ever since the galaxy experienced three supernovas in relatively rapid succession — just over a decade, between 1992 and 2003. Scientists are intrigued by the galaxy’s satellites — smaller “dwarf” galaxies that orbit NGC 1097 like moons. Studying this set of galaxies could reveal new information about how galaxies interact with each other and co-evolve.

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