From 156 million light-years away the heart of active galaxy IC 5063 reveals a mixture of bright rays and dark shadows coming from the blazing core, home of a supermassive black hole.

In this Hubble Space Telescope image, astronomers suggest that a ring of dusty material surrounding the black hole may be casting its shadow into space. According to this scenario, the interplay of light and shadow may occur when light blasted by the monster black hole strikes the dust ring, which is buried deep inside the core. Light streams through gaps in the ring, creating the brilliant cone-shaped rays. However, denser patches in the disk block some of the light, casting long, dark shadows through the galaxy.

This phenomenon is similar to sunlight piercing our Earthly clouds at sunset, creating a mixture of bright rays and dark shadows formed by beams of light scattered by the atmosphere.

However, the bright rays and dark shadows appearing in IC 5063 are happening on a vastly larger scale, shooting across at least 36,000 light-years.

The observations were taken on March 7 and Nov. 25, 2019, by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI and W.P. Maksym (CfA)

从1.56亿光年之外的活跃星系IC 5063的中心,可以看到来自炽热核心的明亮光线和黑暗阴影的混合物,这是一个超大质量黑洞的家。



然而,IC 5063中出现的亮光和暗影是在一个巨大的范围内发生的,至少跨越36,000光年。


图片来源: NASA, ESA, STScI and W.P. Maksym (CfA)

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