One hundred fifty million light years away, spiral galaxy NGC 976 slowly spins in space, presenting a near face-on view of its tightly-wound arms as seen from Earth. Despite its tranquil appearance, NGC 976 has hosted supernova blasts that have helped astronomers more precisely measure the distances to this and other galaxies by calibrating the brightness of both type 1a supernovae and pulsating Cepheid variable stars. This spectacular image was captured by the Wide Field Camera 3 aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. Click on the image for a larger view.
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the spiral galaxy NGC 4845, located over 65 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo. In 2013 researchers noticed a violent flare from the black hole at the centre of NGC 4845 as it tore up and fed off an object many times more massive than Jupiter that strayed too close and was devoured.
In this season of post-Christmas gym memberships, black holes have shown that they too can lose a lot of the weight of the stars that surround them. One unusually star-deprived black hole at the site of two merged galaxies could provide new insight into black hole evolution and behaviour, according to observations with the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory.