ngc 4649

Elliptical M60, Spiral NGC 4647 
Giant elliptical galaxy M60 and spiral galaxy NGC 4647 do look like an odd couple in this sharp cosmic portrait from the Hubble Space Telescope. But they are found in a region of space where galaxies tend to gather, on the eastern side of the nearby Virgo Galaxy Cluster. About 54 million light-years distant, bright M60’s simpler egg-like shape is created by its randomly swarming older stars, while NGC 4647’s young blue stars, gas and dust are organized into winding arms rotating in a flattened disk. Spiral NGC 4647 is estimated to be more distant than M60, some 63 million light-years away. Also known as Arp 116, the pair of galaxies may be on the verge of a significant gravitational encounter, though. M60 (aka NGC 4649) is about 120,000 light-years across. The smaller NGC 4647 spans around 90,000 light-years, about the size of our own Milky Way.

Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Elliptical galaxy NGC 4649

This is a composite image of data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (shown in purple) and Hubble Space Telescope (blue) of the giant elliptical galaxy, NGC 4649, located about 51 million light years from Earth. Although NGC 4649 contains one of the biggest black holes in the local Universe, there are no overt signs of its presence because the black hole is in a dormant state. The lack of a bright central point in either the X-ray or optical images shows that the supermassive black hole does not appear to be rapidly pulling in material towards its event horizon, nor generating copious amounts of light as it grows. Also, the very smooth appearance of the Chandra image shows that the hot gas producing the X-rays has not been disturbed recently by outbursts from a growing black hole.

Credit X-ray (NASA/CXC/Univ. of California Irvine/P.Humphrey et al.); Optical (NASA/STScI)