Where In The Universe Challenge #126

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 Replies to “Where In The Universe Challenge #126”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

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

  6. 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!

  7. 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””.

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

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

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