Supermassive black hole in spiral galaxy Messier 77 (NGC 1068)

Stunning new image by the orbiting X-ray observatory, shows the disk of gas and dust surrounding a supermassive black hole, that is clumpy and not smooth.

Above: The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of the spiral galaxy Messier 77 (NGC 1068) located about 45 million light-years away, and NuSTAR’s high-energy X-rays eyes obtained the view of the disk around the galaxy’s central supermassive black hole (zoomed-in inset).   Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech



This active black hole is surrounded by extremely thick clouds of gas and dust.

The NuSTAR data revealed that the torus of gas and dust surrounding the black hole, also referred to as a doughnut, is more clumpy than previously thought. doughnuts around active, supermassive black holes were originally proposed in the mid-1980s to be smooth entities. More recently, researchers have been finding that doughnuts are not so smooth but have lumps. NuSTAR’s latest finding shows that this is true for even the thickest of doughnuts.

source JPL NASA