NGC 4151 is located about 43 million light years away from the Earth and is one of the nearest galaxies that contains an actively growing black hole. Because of this proximity, it offers one of the best chances of studying the interaction between an active supermassive black hole and the surrounding gas of its host galaxy.
In 2007, Chandra X-Ray astronomers captured an image of more than a thousand supermassive black holes, giving scientists a snapshot of a crucial period when these monster black holes are growing, and provide insight into the environments in which they occur.
The black hole panorama was made with data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based optical telescopes. The black holes in the image are hundreds of millions to several billion times more massive than the sun and lie in the centers of galaxies.
The Central Molecular Zone of our galaxy is a massive complex of molecular gas and dust situated in the innermost 700 light-years of the Milky Way. Although the galaxy is over 100,000 light-years in size, nearly 10% of all of its molecular gas lies in the CMZ -a region of dense gas and dust that produces new stars as the material coalesces and heats up under the influence of gravity.
Climate changes profoundly influenced the rise and fall of six distinct, successive waves of mammal species diversity in North America over the last 65 million years, shows a novel statistical analysis led by Brown University evolutionary biologists. Warming and cooling periods, in two cases confounded by species migrations, marked the transition from one dominant grouping to the next.
Rocky planets a few times heavier than Earth that were thought might be life-friendly may lack a protective magnetic field that originates from an iron core that is at least partly molten.
A simulation of super-Earths between a few times and 10 times Earth's mass suggests that high pressures will keep the core solid, according to Guillaume Morard of the Institute of Mineralogy and Physics of Condensed Matter in Paris, France. Without a magnetic field, the planets would be bathed in harmful radiation, and their atmospheres would be eroded away by particles streaming from their stars.
Io, the innermost of Jupiter's large satellites and the most volcanically active body in the solar system, with plumes of matter rising up to 186 miles (300 km) above the surface is considered a prime candidate as a hotspot for extreme extraterrestrial life. In the image of Io, above, the lighter spot at the top right (north) of the planet, is an eruptive volcano.
Gamma Ray Bursts are the brightest things to happen to the Universe since its beginning -- extraordinarily intense electromagnetic events releasing more energy per second than the sun does in a billion years, and basically an excuse for astronomers to use every awesome adjective they know.
GRBs are an incredible demonstration of just how big a universe is: they're extremely rare, only a few per galaxy per million years, and we see about one a day. They're so interesting NASA launched a satellite just for them, the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission -- a mission so advanced that "Swift" isn't even an acronym. They just liked the word.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has imaged this coiled galaxy with an eye-like object at its center. The 'eye' at the center of the galaxy is actually a monstrous black hole surrounded by a ring of stars. In this color-coded infrared view from Spitzer, the area around the invisible black hole is blue and the ring of stars, white. The galaxy, called NGC 1097 and located 50 million light-years away, is spiral-shaped like our Milky Way, with long, spindly arms of stars.
A new study by an international team of astronomers led by Stefan Gillessen of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, announced that they had spotted dusty gas cloud about three times as massive as Earth, possibly heading toward a close encounter with Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), our centraal supermassive black hole, which has as much mass as four million suns. They believe that the object was belched out as stellar plasma winds from the young stars that orbit the black hole.