Illustration for article titled A ring of blue. A ring of pink. And a ring of black holes.

Four hundred and thirty million light-years from earth a ring of black holes is forming, possibly around some very nervous aliens. In the constellation Cetus lies ARP 147, the remains of a spiral galaxy and an elliptical galaxy that . . . interacted.


For 'interacted' read, 'boom.' They plowed into one another, smushing enough matter together to form a large ring of new stars. Some stars are new, hot, and still burning hot. That heat shows up as bright blue light, giving the formation a silvery blue glow. These new, hot stars are massive, and they run through their lives fast. Many of them have already gone supernova, exploding outwards, and collapsed into black holes.

Although the black holes should show up as dark spots amid the stars, they give of x-ray radiation, which has been recorded and coded pink in this picture. The large amount of pink, and the large amount of blue that may yet run through its life and turn pink as well one day, shows that these two smashed up galaxies will be ones to avoid, when we are able to travel out among the stars.


This image was taken by several different telescopes. The Hubble Space Telescope captured the visible light image, while Chandra X-Ray Observatory filled in the black holes with pink. The Spitzer Space Telescope kicked in the infrared, and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer tracked ultraviolet.

Via New Scientist and

Image:, X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/S.Rappaport et al, Optical: NASA/STScI

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