A monster black hole 100 million times the mass of the Sun is feeding off gas, dust and a ring of stars at the centre of Galaxy NGC-1097 50 million light-years away. The star-ringed black hole forms the eye of the galaxy which was photographed by the US space agency's Spitzer Space Telescope in California.
"The fate of this black hole and others like it is an active area of research," said George Helou, deputy director of Nasa's Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "Some theories hold that the black hole might quiet down and eventually enter a more dormant state like our Milky Way black hole."
"The ring itself is a fascinating object worthy of study because it is forming stars at a very high rate," said Kartik Sheth, an astronomer at Nasa's Spitzer Science Center. The galaxy's red spiral arms and swirling spokes between them show dust heated by newborn stars, while older populations of stars scattered through the galaxy are blue.
A fuzzy blue dot to the left of the image shows a companion galaxy, while other dots are either stars in the Milky Way, or other more distant galaxies.
The Daily Galaxy via NASA Spitzer