Using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers made this image of a spiral galaxy with what looks like an eye peering out of its core. The eye is actually a black hole about 100 million times as massive as the Sun, surrounded by eye makeup in the form of a ring of brand new stars, Spitzer astronomers said.
The galaxy, known as NGC 1097, is about 50 million light years away in the constellation Fornax. Spitzer sees infrared, or heat, radiation, which is invisible to normal eyes. Gas pouring onto the center of the galaxy is feeding both the black hole and the ring of star formation around it. In this image, recorded taken in three different infrared wavelength bands, the galaxy’s dusty arms have been coded red. A bright blue glob snuggled between the arms to the left is another smaller galaxy.