SPACE TODAY ONLINE    Covering Space From Earth to the Edge of the Universe
Cover Rockets Satellites Shuttles Stations Astronauts Solar System Deep Space History Global Links

Does This Black Hole Look Like
A Giant Hubcap Spinning in Space?

Some say this faraway galaxy looks like a giant hubcap spinning in space. Do you think so?

In reality, according to NASA, it's a disk of space dust and gas swirling around a powerful black hole at the center of a galaxy astronomers call NGC 7052. The cloud is about 3,700 lightyears across. A lightyear is the distance light travels in one year at the rate of 186,282 miles per second -- almost six trillion miles.

The Hubble Space Telescope snapped this photograph of the cloud of dust and gas being swallowed by the black hole. A black hole is something astrophysicists descibe as extremely compact with incredibly strong gravitational pull. Neither light nor anything else can escape a black hole. This black hole sits at the center of a galaxy of billions of stars. This black hole is 300 million times the mass of Earth's Sun.

Astronomers figure this cloud probably is material left over from some ancient collision of galaxies. The gas and dust seem to be rotating at a speed of 341,000 mph around the black hole -- sor of like a carousel.

For more information:
Top of this page More stories Deep space main page STO cover

Copyright 2003 Space Today Online      e-mail