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English: NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has imaged a wild creature of the dark — a coiled galaxy with an eye-like object at its center.The 'eye' at the center of the galaxy is actually a monstrous black hole surrounded by a ring of stars. In this color-coded infrared view from Spitzer, the area around the invisible black hole is blue and the ring of stars, white.
The galaxy, called NGC 1097 and located 50 million light-years away, is spiral-shaped like our Milky Way, with long, spindly arms of stars.
The black hole is huge, about 100 million times the mass of our sun, and is feeding off gas and dust, along with the occasional unlucky star. Our Milky Way's central black hole is tame in comparison, with a mass of a few million suns.
The ring around the black hole is bursting with new star formation. An inflow of material toward the central bar of the galaxy is causing the ring to light up with new stars. And, the galaxy's red spiral arms and the swirling spokes seen between the arms show dust heated by newborn stars. Older populations of stars scattered through the galaxy are blue. The fuzzy blue dot to the left, which appears to fit snugly between the arms, is a companion galaxy. Other dots in the picture are either nearby stars in our galaxy, or distant galaxies.This image was taken during Spitzer's cold mission, before it ran out of liquid coolant. The observatory's warm mission is ongoing, with two infrared channels operating at about 30 degrees Kelvin (-406 degrees Fahrenheit).
|Date||23 July 2009|
|This file is in the public domain because it was created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that "NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted". (See Template:PD-USGov, NASA copyright policy page or JPL Image Use Policy.)
|Orientation of image||1|
|Image resolution in width direction||72|
|Image resolution in height direction||72|
|Unit of X and Y resolution||2|
|Color space information||65535|
|Exif image width||2056|
|Exif image length||2056|
|Software used||Adobe Photoshop CS3 Macintosh|
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