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HubbleSite Hubble Finds Mysterious Disk of Blue Stars Around Black Hole

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Space Telescope Science

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have identified the source of a mysterious blue light surrounding a supermassive black hole in our neighboring Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Though the light has puzzled astronomers for more than a decade, the new discovery makes the story even more mysterious. The blue light is coming from a disk of hot, young stars that are whipping around the black hole in much the same way as planets in our solar system are revolving around the Sun. Astronomers are perplexed about how the pancake-shaped disk of stars could form so close to a giant black hole. Andromeda and its complex core can be seen in the illustration and two images [above]. The illustration [lower, right] shows the disk of blue stars nested inside a larger ring of red stars. The Hubble photo [upper, right] reveals Andromeda's bright core. The image at left shows the entire galaxy.

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