M87 in 3D: New view of galaxy helps pin down mass of the black hole at its core

April 17, 2023

STScI M87in3D 750px A photo of the huge elliptical galaxy M87 [left] is compared to its three-dimensional shape as gleaned from meticulous observations made with the Hubble and Keck telescopes [right]. Because the galaxy is too far away for astronomers to employ stereoscopic vision, they instead followed the motion of stars around the center of M87, like bees around a hive. This created a three-dimensional view of how stars are distributed within the galaxy. (Illustration by NASA, ESA, Joseph Olmsted/STScI, Frank Summers/STScI; Science by Chung-Pei Ma/UC Berkeley)

A new, highly detailed analysis of the motion of stars in the giant elliptical galaxy M87 has been used to determine the mass of the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center.

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