Supermassive black hole triggers blazing ring of star formation around galactic core

The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope and MUSE instrument show the heart of spiral galaxy NGC 1097, some 45 million light years from Earth in the southern constellation Fornax, where gas and dust sucked in toward a supermassive black hole  with 100 million times the mass of the Sun heat up and help fuel a nuclear ring of run-away star birth.

The central region of galaxy NGC 1097 as imaged by ESO’s Very Large Telescope and MUSE instrument. Image: ESO/TIMER survey

The nuclear ring is just 5,000 light years across, dwarfed by the galaxy’s extended spiral arms, seen below in an image from the Hubble Space Telescope.

NGC 1097 as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope, showing the blazing nuclear starburst ring in context. Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA