Black holes

NASA photo reveals star formation sparked by distant supermassive black hole

A newly released photo from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory
Photo: X-ray: NASA/CXC/INAF/R. Gilli et al.; Radio NRAO/VLA; Optical: NASA/STScI

A supermassive black hole's influence can stretch far beyond its immediate surroundings.

What's happening: A newly released photo from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes reveals a black hole in the middle of a galaxy 9.9 billion light-years from Earth that's spurring on star formation in four other galaxies around it, according to a new study in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Scientists spot galaxy with 3 supermassive black holes in its core

A galaxy with three supermassive black holes.
The galaxy NGC 6240. Photo: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA

A galaxy with three supermassive black holes swirling within it could help astronomers piece together just how some of the largest galaxies formed.

Why it matters: The discovery in the NGC 6240 galaxy located about 400 million light-years away marks the first time three supermassive black holes have been found in such close proximity to one another. The galaxy gives scientists an unprecedented chance to study the motions of three huge black holes that were once likely parts of three different galaxies as they merge.