Where In The Universe Challenge #126

Article written: 24 Nov , 2010
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

Here’s this week’s image for the Where In The Universe Challenge, to test your visual knowledge of the cosmos. You know what to do: take a look at this image and see if you can determine where in the universe this image is from; give yourself extra points if you can name the spacecraft or instrument responsible for the image. We’ll provide the image today, but won’t reveal the answer until later. This gives you a chance to mull over the image and provide your answer/guess in the comment section. Please, no links or extensive explanations of what you think this is — give everyone the chance to guess.

And happy Thanksgiving to everyone who will be celebrating on Thursday.

UPDATE: Answer now posted below.

No photoshopping here, there really is a dark “X”-shape silhoutted against the nucleus of this galaxy, M51. Taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, the “X” is due to absorption by dust and this X really does mark the spot. It marks the exact position of a black hole which may have a mass equivalent to one-million stars like the sun.

This may be the first direct view of an immense ring of dust which fuels a massive black hole at the heart of M51, located 20 million light-years away. The darkest bar may be an edge-on dust ring which is 100 light-years in diameter. Surprisingly, astronomers found that the ring is standing almost perpendicularly to the relatively flat spiral galaxy, like a top spinning on its side with respect to the floor. Even more surprising is the discovery of a secondary ring or dust lane which is contrary to all expectations.

You can read more about this image of M51 at the HubbleSite.

20 Responses

  1. Trippy says

    It’s Basement Cat!!!!
    (Or at least his eye)

  2. elowitzr says

    These are two crossing dust lanes in the M 51 galaxy. Their center marks the approximate location of a (possible) supermassive black hole. Image was taken by HST.

  3. chemist84 says

    I can’t believe I remembered this one. It’s the core of the Whirlpool galaxy (M51) photographed by Hubble. Or maybe its where the alien pirates buried their treasure.

  4. kblade98 says

    It’s the crossing of two dust lanes in the galaxy Messier 51 aka the Whirlpool Galaxy. They may mark the exact location of a supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy. However, if you ask certain people, they will say its a cross and a sign from God. I even know someone who called it Jesus.

  5. msadesign says

    I look at a lot of space stuff everyday but Nancy trips me up more often than not. But not the denizens here.

    You people are scary, you know?

  6. tzacanitu says

    2 dust rings that are surrounding the center black hole of the M51 galaxy. Or that`s the crosshair through which the bad aliens are targeting us.

  7. Quasy says

    It is the light at the end of the tunnel…

  8. tjaracas says

    It’s like a cross showing us that it is xmas time on M51. Maybe santa claus is coming from there.

  9. Lawrence B. Crowell says

    I got here late again. This is the M51 “Whirlpool galaxy” core.


  10. Mister T says

    that is the statue of JC in Rio.

    taken with my 0.00001 megapixel cellphone camera.

  11. Qev says

    It’s a pair of perpendicular dust lanes around the core of the Whirlpool Galaxy, M51, as imaged by Hubble’s WFPC1 (I think).

  12. Gerryjet says

    Christ the Redeemer back lit by a full moon. Sugar Loaf Mountain.

  13. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says

    Einstein’s Cross (Mark II) — Orest Chwolson RIng!

    It could also be the origin of the magnetic field central to the theory of plasma cosmology. I.e. Where ‘x’ marks the exact spot! Maybe our latest PC/EU proponent, Muppet might be able to tell us more. He seems to know about astrophysics and cosmology that the rest of us combined! It could be our thanksgiving present from hIm, methinks!

  14. mgjohnson says

    Oh Boy……… I can just see my conservative right-wing buddies sending this photo to me someday with the caption: “”NASA calls this heavenly miracle The Cosmic Cross Of Christ””.

  15. Dark Gnat says

    Batsignal, Gotham Police Dept Headuarters.

  16. capper says

    nice troll crumb. you’d think that seeing a cosmic orthodox icon would at least disolve a small fraction of your bitterness. 🙁

  17. quazifnatik says

    The Chandra X-Ray Telescope?

  18. cydonia says

    X-files. Obviously, one of Mulder’s cases. Amazing, how similar it looks to m51.

  19. Rob Power says

    According to my daughter’s religious education teacher; it’s Jesus’s cross and a sign from god!

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