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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Hubble telescope photographed the galaxy NGC 3156. There is a black hole at its heart

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The lenticular galaxy NGC 3156 was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. It is located 73 million light-years from Earth and has been relatively well explored. Scientists have discovered that at its center lies an extremely voracious black hole.

Despite over three decades in operation, the Hubble Space Telescope continues to conduct scientific observations and provides interesting photos of astronomical objects. The second category includes the photograph presented by the European Space Agency (ESA) i NASAwhich depicts a seemingly calm, cosmic scene.

Lenticular galaxy

Immortalized in a photograph galaxy NGC 3156 is located 73 million light-years from Earth. It is visible in the sky in the small constellation Sextant. The galaxy belongs to a type astronomers call lenticular galaxies, which refers to the shape of the object.

Lenticular galaxies fall between ellipticals and spiral galaxies, having characteristics of both types. They are connected to spiral galaxies by a central galactic bulge and a large disk surrounding them, which often shows dark spiral-like dust lanes but lacks large spiral arms. In turn, elliptical galaxies have in common that they have mainly old stars and little ongoing star formation.

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NGC 3156 has been studied by astronomers in many ways. Both globular clusters (spherical clusters of stars gravitationally bound together) and stars destroyed by the black hole in the center of the galaxy were analyzed. Using Hubble data, stars near the galactic center were compared with other galaxies that had black holes of similar size. NGC 3156 was found to have a higher-than-average percentage of stars consumed by its central supermassive black hole.

The galaxy NGC 3156 through the lens of the Hubble Space TelescopeESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Sharples, S. Kaviraj, W. Keel

Main photo source: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Sharples, S. Kaviraj, W. Keel

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