Bubbles in space
Massive balls of gas seen near a black hole.
This is an image of the galaxy known as NGC 3079, situated 67 million light-years from Earth.
The picture is a composite, blending data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory – seen here in purple and pink – and the Hubble Telescope.
Of primary interest here, at least to Jiangtao Li of the University of Michigan, US, and colleagues, is the pink chalice-like structure and, below it, a rather less visible structure that looks like its mirror image.
These, Li and his fellow researchers conclude, are a pair of ultra-massive bubbles, book-ending a supermassive black hole positioned between them. Calculations indicate that the larger bubble has a diameter of 4900 light years; its companion, slight smaller, is 3600 light years across.
Full descriptions are available in a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, or the preprint site, arXiv.