SPITZER HUNTS BLACK HOLES IN M66
Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/CXC/Ohio State Univ./C.Grier et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI, ESO/WFI; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech. CLICK image for larger view and look below for information and related links.
Here’s an example of teamwork at its best. This 4 telescope image of galaxy M66 was brought to bear by the Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared shown in red), the Very Large Telescope (yellow), the Hubble Space Telescope (optical) and the Chandra Space Telescope (x-ray shown in blue).
At the center of this galaxy lies a supermassive black hole which is the reason for the massive emission of light from this star cities nucleus. A search was conducted using archival data from Chandra’s observations and in doing so it was discovered that 37 of the 62 galaxies imaged in this fashion rendered supermassive black holes at their cores. Furthermore, seven of those 37 sources proved to be new supermassive black hole candidates.
You may notice that this galaxy which was discovered by Charles Messier on the night of March 1, 1780 doesn’t quite look normal as far as spiral galaxies go. This look didn’t go unnoticed as it landed a spot in the Arp Catalog of Peculiar Galaxies. So what happened, did another galaxy pass through this one as that does happen quite often in the cosmos? In fact the distortions in this galaxy are caused by tidal interactions with two other nearby galaxies; M65 and NGC 3628. Combined, these galaxies are very well known as “The Leo Triplet.”
NAME: NGC 3627, M66, Arp 16.
WHAT IS IT?: Varred spiral galaxy.
HOW BIG IS IT?: 95,000 light years in diameter & 9’x4’ arcminutes on the night sky.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: About 29 million light years (29,000,000).
APPARENT MAGNITUDE?: 8.9.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Leo “The Lion” & a member of the Leo Triplet.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 11h 20m 15.0s / DEC 12° 59′ 31.4″.
Spitzer Space Telescope page for this image: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/5512-sig12-013-Revealing-Hidden-Black-Holes