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Black Holes
X-ray Astronomy Field Guide
Black Holes
Questions and Answers
Black Holes
Chandra Images
Black Holes
Animations & Video: Black Holes
Page 1234567
Click for high-resolution animation
1. Tour of NGC 4342 & NGC 4291
QuicktimeMPEG Astronomers think that just about every galaxy has a giant black hole at its center. For quite some time, the prevailing wisdom has been that the mass of these supermassive black holes is tied to the size of the tightly packed group of stars around the galaxy's center known as its bulge. Two objects, however, have been discovered that are challenging this idea. NGC 4342 and NGC 4291 are relatively nearby galaxies, which means astronomers can get particularly good views of them. New data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed the presence of massive envelopes of dark matter around each galaxy. The researchers think the growth of the supermassive black holes may, in fact, be tied more closely to the amount and distribution of the dark matter in each galaxy, rather than the mass of stars contained in their bulges as previously believed.
[Runtime: 00.57]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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Click for high-resolution animation
2. Tour of CID-42
QuicktimeMPEG At the center of a galaxy some 4 billion light years from Earth, something extraordinary is happening. This galaxy, known as CID-42, contains a giant black hole. This fact itself is not so unusual. What is different about CID-42 is that this supermassive black hole is being ejected from its host galaxy at several million miles per hour. What led to this black hole ejection? Astronomers think that in the past CID-42 collided with another galaxy. When it did, the two central black holes also collided and merged. The joined black hole then received a powerful kick from gravitational waves, a phenomenon predicted by Einstein but never directly detected. While astronomers have been studying CID-42 for quite some time, it took new data from Chandra's High Resolution Camera to pinpoint just where the X-rays were coming from, which helped clarify just what was going on in this galaxy.
[Runtime: 01:03]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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3. Simulation of Black Hole Ejection
QuicktimeMPEG This simulation shows a collision between a pair of spiral galaxies leading to a merger between their supermassive black holes and an ejection of the new black hole that forms. This represents a model for the formation and evolution of the exotic X-ray source CID-42.
The galaxy collision causes long tails of stars to be thrown out of each galaxy. After the collision the two black holes (labelled by circles) initially located at the center of each galaxy orbit around each other until they eventually merge. The newly formed black hole recoils from the directional emission of gravitational waves produced by the collision, giving the newly merged black hole a sufficiently large kick for it to eventually escape from the galaxy. The simulation freezes briefly to make a comparison with the HST optical image, at a time about 6 million years after the merger. The speed of the black hole at this time is over three million miles per hour, compared to the escape velocity of the galaxy of only about 1.7 million miles per hour.
The masses of the two galaxies are about 450 billion and 230 billion times the mass of the sun, with stars forming throughout the simulation. The masses of the two black holes just before they merge are about 5.4 and 4.3 million times the mass of the sun, giving a total of about 10 million solar masses for the new black hole. Both black holes grow considerably during the galaxy collision. The total duration of the movie is 2 billion years, with the merger and ejection of the black hole occurring after 1.9 billion years. The movie runs at half speed after the merger so the eye can track the black hole flying out of the galaxy. The recoiling black hole could be detectable, by radiation from material in a surrounding disk, for several million years after the time of the observation. By the end of the simulation, the BH has virtually exhausted its gas supply and is moving, invisible, through intergalactic space.
[Runtime: 00.29]
(Laura Blecha)

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4. Tour of Sagittarius A*
QuicktimeMPEG Over several years, astronomers have noticed flares in X-ray light from the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory detected these flares during the telescope's periodic observations of the black hole. A new study suggests that these flares may occur when the black hole - known as Sagittarrius A* or Sgr A* for short -- consumes an asteroid at least six miles wide. If an asteroid gets too close to another object like a star or planet, it can be thrown into an orbit headed toward Sgr A*. Once the asteroid passes within about 100 million miles of the black hole, it is torn into pieces by the black hole's tidal forces. Eventually, these fragments are vaporized by friction as they pass through the hot, thin gas flowing onto Sgr A*. This is what produces an X-ray flare. If confirmed, this result could mean that there is a cloud around Sgr A* containing trillions of asteroids and comets. This would be an exciting development for the many scientists who are fascinated by the Milky Way's giant black hole and the environment around it.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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5. Zoom in to Cygnus X-1
QuicktimeMPEG Cygnus X-1 is located near large active regions of star formation in the Milky Way. Cygnus X-1 is a black hole about 15 times the mass of the Sun in orbit with a massive blue companion star. Astronomers used several telescopes including Chandra to study Cygnus X-1. The combined data have revealed the spin, mass, and distance of this black hole more precisely than ever before.
[Runtime: 00:30]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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6. Tour of Cygnus X-1
QuicktimeMPEG Over three decades ago, Stephen Hawking placed, and eventually lost, a bet against the existence of a black hole in Cygnus X-1. Today, astronomers are confident the Cygnus X-1 system contains a black hole. In fact, a team of scientists has combined data from radio, optical, and X-ray telescopes including Chandra to determine the black hole's spin, mass, and distance more precisely than ever before. With these key pieces of information, the history of the black hole has been reconstructed. This new information gives astronomers strong clues about how the black hole was born, how much it weighed, and how fast it was spinning. This is important because scientists still would like to know much more about the birth of black holes.
[Runtime: 00:55]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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7. Tour of NGC 3115
QuicktimeMPEG This is NGC 3115, a galaxy located about 32 million light years from Earth. This composite image contains X-rays from Chandra as well as optical data from the Very Large Telescope. Using the new Chandra image, astronomers have imaged the flow of hot gas as it falls toward the supermassive black hole in the center of NGC 3115. This is the first time such a flow has been clearly imaged in any black hole. The Chandra data also provide evidence that the black hole in NGC 3115 has a mass of about two billion times that of the Sun. This would make NGC 3115 the host of the nearest billion-solar-mass black hole to Earth.
[Runtime: 00:55]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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8. Tour of CDFS
QuicktimeMPEG This animation shows an artist's impression of a distant galaxy and its hidden black hole found in an epoch when the Universe was less than one billion years old. The galaxy contains regions of active star formation (blue) and large amounts of gas and dust (red). The view zooms into the galaxy, and a glowing disk of hot gas falling onto massive central object is seen. At the center of the disk is a supermassive black hole. Many types of radiation emitted from the disk are blocked by the veil of dust and gas, but very energetic X-rays are able to escape. Scientists found many of these black holes in the early Universe using the new Chandra Deep Field South.
[Runtime: 1.21]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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9. Multi-wavelength Views of the Chandra Deep Field South
QuicktimeMPEG This sequence of images begins with a large optical image of the southern sky. The view zooms into the 4-million-second exposure of the Chandra Deep Field South, and then an optical and infrared image from the Hubble Space Telescope is overlaid. The Chandra sources are blue in this composite image. After further zooming in, yellow circles appear to mark the positions of very distant galaxies that existed when the Universe was less than about 950 million years old. The two small Chandra sources on the right show that all of the low and high energy X-rays that have been added up at the positions of these galaxies. This provides evidence that growing black holes have been detected in 30% to 100% of the distant galaxies.
[Runtime: 0.27]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/U. Hawaii/E. Treister et al; Infrared: NASA/STScI/UC Santa Cruz/G. Illingworth et al; Optical: Wide-field: Akira Fujii; Close-up: NASA/STScI/S. Beckwith et al)

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10. Animation of Hidden Baby Black Hole
QuicktimeMPEG This animation shows an artist's impression of a distant galaxy and its hidden black hole found in an epoch when the Universe was less than one billion years old. The galaxy contains regions of active star formation (blue) and large amounts of gas and dust (red). The view zooms into the galaxy, and a glowing disk of hot gas falling onto massive central object is seen. At the center of the disk is a supermassive black hole. Many types of radiation emitted from the disk are blocked by the veil of dust and gas, but very energetic X-rays are able to escape. Scientists found many of these black holes in the early Universe using the new Chandra Deep Field South.
[Runtime: 0.20]
View Stills
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

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