Black Holes Go Mano A Mano: A galaxy about 330 million light years from Earth.
Description: NGC 6240 is a system in which two supermassive black holes are a mere 3,000 light years apart. These black holes (the two bright point-like sources in the middle) are in such close proximity, scientists think, because they are in the act of spiraling toward each other -a process that began about 30 million years earlier. It is estimated that the two black holes will eventually drift together and merge into a larger black hole some tens to hundreds of millions of years from now. This image of NGC 6240 contains new X-ray data from Chandra (shown in red, orange, and yellow) that has been combined with an optical image from Hubble.
Creator/Photographer: Chandra X-ray Observatory
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which was launched and deployed by Space Shuttle Columbia on July 23, 1999, is the most sophisticated X-ray observatory built to date. The mirrors on Chandra are the largest, most precisely shaped and aligned, and smoothest mirrors ever constructed. Chandra is helping scientists better understand the hot, turbulent regions of space and answer fundamental questions about origin, evolution, and destiny of the Universe. The images Chandra makes are twenty-five times sharper than the best previous X-ray telescope. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Medium: Chandra telescope x-ray
Persistent URL: chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2009/ngc6240/
Repository: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Gift line: X-ray (NASA/CXC/MIT/C.Canizares, M.Nowak); Optical (NASA/STScI)
Accession number: ngc6240_436