NEW images from the Hubble Telescope show a distant galaxy being DESTROYED from within by a supermassive black hole.
Stunning pictures from NASA’s telescope show a galaxy located some 150 million light years away being devoured from the inside.
The galaxy, known as NGC 4696, is part of the Centaurus cluster – a group of hundreds of galaxies which have been drawn together through immense gravitational pull in the Centaurus constellation.
It is the brightest galaxy in the Centaurus cluster, but Hubble has spotted it being torn apart, with thread-like filaments shooting away from its center.
The European Space Agency (ESA) said in a statement: “They found that each of the dusty filaments has a width of about 200 light-years and a density some 10 times greater than the surrounding gas.
NGC 4696 is being devoured from the inside
"These filaments knit together and spiral inwards towards the center of NGC 4696, connecting the galaxy's constituent gas to its core.”
The space agency said that the galaxy’s odd appearance was caused by an active supermassive black hole at its core, which created energy so massive that it heated the inner regions of NGC 4696, causing it to propel material outwards.
The galaxy was found within the Centaurus cluster
The ESA continued: "It appears that these hot streams of gas bubble outwards, dragging the filamentary material with them as they go. The galaxy's magnetic field is also swept out with this bubbling motion, constraining and sculpting the material within the filaments. At the very center of the galaxy, the filaments loop and curl inwards in an intriguing spiral shape, swirling around the supermassive black hole at such a distance that they are dragged into and eventually consumed by the black hole itself."