A new combined image of a ring -- not of jewels -- but of black holes comes from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope just in time for Valentine's Day.
This composite image of Arp 147, a pair of interacting galaxies located about 430 million light years from Earth, shows X-rays from the NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (pink or magenta) and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (red, green, blue) produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
The ring-shaped object on the right is a remnant of a spiral galaxy that collided with the elliptical galaxy to the left millions of years ago. The collision triggered a wave of star formation that shows up as a blue ring containing in abundance of massive young stars.
Many of these new young stars raced through their evolution in a few million years or less and explode as supernovas, leaving behind neutron stars and black holes. Researchers estimate that the nine sources around the ring are likely 10 to 20 times more massive than the Sun -- a rather impressive weight for any Valentine's gift.
Arp 147 lies in the constellation Cetus, and it is more than 400 million light-years away from Earth, and visible in the Northern Hemisphere.
These results were published in the October 1, 2010 issue of The Astrophysical Journal and the authors are Saul Rappaport and Alan Levine from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, David Pooley from Eureka Scientific and Benjamin Steinhorn, also from MIT.
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Massachusetts.