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News Release 9 of 44

October 25, 2007 01:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2007-39

Hubble Spies Shells of Sparkling Stars Around Quasar

October 25, 2007: What has appeared as a mild-mannered elliptical galaxy in previous studies is revealing its wild side in new images taken with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble photos show shells of stars around a bright quasar, known as MC2 1635+119, which dominates the center of the galaxy. The shells' presence indicates a titanic clash with another galaxy in the relatively recent past. The collision also is funneling gas into the galaxy's center and is feeding a supermassive black hole. The accretion onto the black hole is the source of the quasar's energy. This observation supports the idea that at least some quasars are born from interactions between galaxies.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Canalizo (University of California, Riverside)