Images by Date
Images by Category
Solar System
White Dwarfs
Neutron Stars
Black Holes
Milky Way Galaxy
Normal Galaxies
Galaxy Clusters
Cosmology/Deep Field
Images by Interest
Space Scoop for Kids
Sky Map
Photo Blog
Top Rated Images
Image Handouts
Fits Files
Image Tutorials
Photo Album Tutorial
False Color
Cosmic Distance
Look-Back Time
Scale & Distance
Angular Measurement
Images & Processing
Image Use Policy
Web Shortcuts
Chandra Blog
RSS Feed
Email Newsletter
News & Noteworthy
Image Use Policy
Questions & Answers
Glossary of Terms
Download Guide
Get Adobe Reader
NGC 5195 Animations
Click for low-resolution animation
Tour of NGC 5195
Quicktime MPEG With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have discovered evidence for powerful blasts produced by a giant black hole. This is the nearest supermassive black hole to Earth that is currently undergoing such violent outbursts. The researchers found this behavior in the famous Messier 51 system of galaxies, which is located about 26 million light years from Earth. This system contains a large spiral galaxy, NGC 5194 (a.k.a. "The Whirlpool"), merging with a smaller companion galaxy, NGC 5195, where these outbursts are occurring.

A team of astronomers found a pair of arcs in the X-ray data, which they interpret to be the artifacts of two enormous blasts from the supermassive black hole at the center of NGC 5195 that happened millions of years ago. Scientists think that in the early Universe black holes would have had these kinds of outbursts quite often, impacting the evolution of galaxies they inhabited. What makes this new discovery from Chandra important is that the outbursts in NGC 5195 are so nearby, astronomically speaking. This allows astronomers to have a rare close-up look at this behavior. Astronomers will continue to study systems like NGC 5195 to better understand how black holes and galaxies affect one another.
[Runtime: 02:22]

(Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Return to NGC 5195 (January 5, 2016)