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Radio Jets fronm a Black Hole in Galaxy NGC 4261

The image on the left is a Hubble Space Telescope image of an 800-light-year-wide spiral-shaped disk of dust fueling a massive black hole in the center of galaxy, NGC 4261, located 100 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Virgo. By measuring the speed of gas swirling around the black hole, astronomers calculate that the object at the center of the disk is 1.2 billion times the mass of our Sun, yet concentrated into a region of space not much larger than our solar system. The strikingly geometric disk -- which contains enough mass to make 100,000 stars like our Sun -- was first identified in Hubble observations made in 1992. These new Hubble images reveal for the first time structure in the disk, which may be produced by waves or instabilities in the disk. Hubble also reveals that the disk and black hole are offset from the center of NGC 4261, implying some sort of dynamical interaction is taking place, that has yet to be fully explained.
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The image on the right is a composite visual/radio view of the whole galaxy NGC 4261. Photographed in visible light (white) the galaxy appears as a fuzzy sphere of hundreds of billions of stars. A radio image (orange) shows a pair of opposed jets emanating from the nucleus and spanning a distance of 88,000 light-years. The giant elliptical galaxy NGC 4261 is one of the twelve brightest galaxies in the Virgo cluster, located 45 million light-years away.
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