Image Credit: R Jay Gabany

This stunning image helps illustrate the abundance of water molecules surrounding an accretion disk, a collection of matter scheduled to be torn to shreds by a supermassive black hole, located in the galactic center of a distant galaxy. The water molecules can be seen in pink (specifically outlining jets of glowing, ionized hydrogen emission) The galaxy, known as NGC 4258 (or Messier 106), is a small island universe located some 21 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Canes Venatici. In the image, the bluish regions are representative of clusters of huge, blue-white, metal poor stars. While the reddish regions are sites of active star formation. Also seen here are several background galaxies, including NGC 4248 (bottom right) . See a larger image here.


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