Bubbles in space

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.

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