In the constellation Virgo
700 million light-years
100 million times the mass of the Sun
Greater than the size of the asteroid belt in our solar system
This series of illustrations shows a yellow star that travels too close to a giant black hole in the center of the galaxy RX J1242-11. As it nears the black hole, it's stretched and torn apart by tidal gravity. Although a small amount of material is captured by the black hole and forms a rotating disk around it, most of the gaseous debris escapes the black hole. Gas in the disk is heated to millions of degrees before it falls into the black hole, so it produces X-rays. [ESA]
This document was last modified: February 1, 2006.