- Press Release
- August 19, 2022
Hubble Image Of Spectacular Spiral M91
The spiral galaxy M91 fills the frame of this Wide Field Camera 3 observation from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
M91 lies approximately 55 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Coma Berenices and – as is evident in this image – is a barred spiral galaxy. While M91’s prominent bar makes for a spectacular galactic portrait, it also hides an astronomical monstrosity. Like our own galaxy, M91 contains a supermassive black hole at its center. A 2009 study using archival Hubble data found that this central black hole weighs somewhere between 9.6 and 38 million times as much as the Sun.
While archival Hubble data allowed astronomers to weigh M91’s central black hole, more recent observations have had other scientific aims. This observation is part of an effort to build a treasure trove of astronomical data exploring the connections between young stars and the clouds of cold gas in which they form. To do this, astronomers used Hubble to obtain ultraviolet and visible observations of galaxies already seen at radio wavelengths by the ground-based Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array.
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team larger image