An iris of stars

Around 50 million light years away, lies a rather lovely spiral galaxy known as NGC 1097. Seen in infrared light by Spitzer in this image, it reminds me a little of an egyptian Eye of Horus.

That pupil however, is a black hole weighing in at 100 million solar masses. Astonishingly though, that bright white iris around it is a flurry of star forming activity. It’s thought to be produced by material falling inwards towards the central black hole and is “forming stars at a very high rate,” according to NASA’s Kartik Sheth.

Interestingly, this is yet more evidence of black holes being helpful towards star formation, even if one or two occasionally get torn apart, devoured or kicked out of the nest

Source — Spitzer Space Telescope

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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