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Chandra X-ray Image of M87
(Credit: NASA/CXC/H.Feng et al.)

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(10 May 04)
(26 Sep 01)
M87 Core:
Spooktacular M87

M87 Core
Credit: NASA/CXC/H.Feng et al.

Is it a spooky jack-o-lantern, a ghost, or some other sort of specter? Turns out it's nothing scary at all - unless you are afraid of black holes possibly crashing into each other. This is, in fact, an image of the core of M87, a galaxy in the constellation of Virgo. Scientists have specially processed Chandra's X-ray data to reveal the presence of what they believe to be three rings associated with the galaxy's core and jet. If these rings are real, then scientists will need to come up with more than a ghost story to explain them. One possible explanation for the triple-ring structure is the merger of two spinning, supermassive black holes.

Fast Facts for M87 Core:
Credit  NASA/CXC/H.Feng et al.
Scale  Image is 2 arcmin across.
Category  Quasars & Active Galaxies, Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 12h 30m 49.40s | Dec +12° 23' 28.00"
Constellation  Virgo
Observation Dates  July 29, 2000 & July 06, 2002
Observation Time  33 hours
Obs. IDs  352, 2707
Color Code  Intensity
Instrument  ACIS
References H. Feng et al. 2004, Astrophys. J. 607:L95-L98
Distance Estimate  50 million light years
Release Date  October 29, 2004