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Hubble Gazes at the Home of an Enormous Black Hole

Bright white, pink, and blue stars and gas, concentrated in the lower left of the frame. They spiral outward from the lower-left corner. Black background.
This Hubble image shows the central region of NGC 4395. The image uses data from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3.
NASA, ESA, S. Larsen (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen) and E. Sabbi (STScI); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the spiral galaxy NGC 4395 looks at a small section of the larger galaxy. As galaxies go, NGC 4395 has a very low surface brightness, meaning it is diffuse and emits less light than normal galaxies. Sitting about 14 million light-years away from Earth, this spiral is also a Seyfert galaxy, or a galaxy that has a very bright core. NGC 4395 is one of the closest and dimmest known Seyfert galaxies.

Bright white, pink, and blue stars and gas, concentrated in the lower left of the frame. Black background. Lower Left: small image of NGC 4395 that shows the location of larger Hubble image.
The larger Hubble image shows the central region of NGC 4395 along with a smaller Digital Sky Survey inset image, lower-left corner, that reveals the location of the Hubble image in the wider context of the entire galaxy.
NASA, ESA, DSS, S. Larsen (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen) and E. Sabbi (STScI); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Seyfert galaxies contain active galactic nuclei, or AGNs, powered by supermassive black holes. AGNs are extremely bright, as radiation across the entire electromagnetic spectrum is produced as the black hole devours material that gets too close to it. Seyfert galaxies are distinct from other types of AGNs because the galaxy surrounding the black hole is detectable. The brightness of AGNs can often wash out the glow of their host galaxies. The galactic nucleus in NGC 4395 has a comparably low luminosity to other AGNs and the black hole is about 10,000 times the mass of our Sun!

NGC 4395, a dwarf galaxy, is also a unique Seyfert galaxy due to its lack of galactic bulge, the tightly packed group of stars often found at the center of a galaxy.

A patriotic groups of red, white, and blue stars, gas, and dust fills the scene on a black background. Groups of stars and gas are denser at image center. One lone yellow star shines toward the lower right.
This Hubble image looks at of one of NGC 4395's spiral arms. The image uses data from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 and its Advanced Camera for Surveys.
NASA, ESA, A. Barth (University of California - Irvine), D. Calzetti (University of Massachusetts - Amherst), R. Chandar (University of Toledo), D. Crenshaw (Georgia State University Research Foundation), S. Larsen (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen), W. Maksym (Smithsonian Institution Astrophysical Observatory), E. Sabbi (STScI), and R. Tully (University of Hawaii); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)
A patriotic groups of red, white, and blue stars, gas, and dust fills the scene on a black background. Groups of stars and gas are denser at image center. Lower Left: small image of NGC 4395 that shows the location of larger Hubble image.
The larger Hubble image looks at one of NGC 4395's spiral arms. The smaller Digital Sky Survey image, in the lower-left corner, shows the location of the Hubble image in the context of the entire galaxy.
NASA, ESA, DSS, A. Barth (University of California - Irvine), D. Calzetti (University of Massachusetts - Amherst), R. Chandar (University of Toledo), D. Crenshaw (Georgia State University Research Foundation), S. Larsen (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen), W. Maksym (Smithsonian Institution Astrophysical Observatory), E. Sabbi (STScI), and R. Tully (University of Hawaii); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Media Contact:

Claire Andreoli
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
301-286-1940

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