A dusty supermassive black hole (artist's impression)

This animation shows the surroundings around a super-massive black hole. Supermassive black holes are found in the centres of active galaxies and have a dust torus around their waist. In some cases astronomers can look along the axis of the dust torus from above or from below and have a clear view of the black hole. For black holes that lie with the dust torus edge-on as viewed from Earth our view of the black hole is totally blocked by the dust over a range of wavelengths from the near-infrared to soft X-rays.

A European team led by Paolo Padovani from Space Telescope-European Coordinating Facility and the European Southern Observatory in Munich, Germany, recently discovered a whole population of these obscured, powerful supermassive black holes.

The jets coming out of the region nearest the black hole are also seen. They emerge from an area close to the black hole where a disk of accreted material rotates around the black hole.

ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser & L. L. Christensen)

About the Video

Release date:28 May 2004, 09:00
Related releases:heic0409
Duration:22 s
Frame rate:30 fps

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