NGC 1448, a galaxy with a supermassive black hole hidden by gas and dust, located 38 million light-years away. Credit: Carnegie-Irvine Galaxy Survey/NASA/JPL-Caltech
Many if not all galaxies—including our Milky Way—harbor enormous, supermassive black holes at their centers, surrounded by disks of superheated gas and orbiting stars caught in a deadly gravitational grip. When these black holes swallow large amounts of gas or even whole stars, they can fire out huge flares of material and radiation that’s can be seen far across the universe. But if there happens to be a lot of cold, dark dust in the way these active galactic nuclei can remain hidden from our view…that is, until NASA’s NuSTAR space telescope was put on the job. Especially sensitive to radiation in high-energy x-ray wavelengths, NuSTAR has allowed astronomers to detect previously hidden supermassive black holes…one of them at the heart of a galaxy relatively close to our own.
Read the rest of this story from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory here: Black Holes Hide in Our Cosmic Backyard