Skip to main content

What the Heck Is This?

This photo is a real gem. Well, actually, that's a lie. I mean, to the people who made the image, it's a gem, but there are no gems in the image.

Can you guess what it is? I bet a lot of people will guess one aspect of it but not the whole shebang.

See an explanation and the full image below …

Those are stars near a supermassive black hole at the center of a giant galaxy. The image, combined with another to form a composite picture, revealed to scientists how the black hole is devouring gas.

This composite image shows X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (the blue-white stars) and optical data (the rest of the galaxy) from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope of the galaxy NGC 3115. Using the Chandra data, the flow of hot gas toward the supermassive black hole in the center of this galaxy has been imaged. This is the first time that clear evidence for such a flow has been observed in any black hole. (Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Alabama/K.Wong et al, Optical: ESO/VLT )

Got a strange or interesting photo related to science, nature or technology? What the Heck, send it to me, and maybe I'll use it.

Robert Roy Britt
Rob was a writer and editor at starting in 1999. He served as managing editor of Live Science at its launch in 2004. He is now Chief Content Officer overseeing media properties for the sites’ parent company, Purch. Prior to joining the company, Rob was an editor at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, and in 1998 he was founder and editor of the science news website ExploreZone. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.