Stars Flare Into Life Around A Massive Black HoleS

Omega Centauri is one of the biggest star clusters orbiting our own galaxy, with the light of millions of stars blazing from it — including some visible with the naked eye. But those stars aren't all the same age, as this new image from the Spitzer Space Telescope shows. Combining visible and infrared images, this new composite shows a mixture of ancient stars (which are red) and younger stars, like our own sun (which are blue). And click through for new evidence that all those stars may be circling a massive black hole at Omega Centauri's core.

Stars Flare Into Life Around A Massive Black HoleS

Here's a new image from the Hubble Space Telescope, which reveals that a black hole 40,000 times the mass of our own sun may be at the center of Omega Centauri. (That's intermediate size for a black hole, and these findings are important proof that black holes come in all sizes.) You can see the increased brightness from stars bunching up around the center of the cluster, drawn by the gravitational pull of the black hole. This ancient star cluster, one of 200 in or near our galaxy, is 17,000 light years from Earth.

Images by Spitzer Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope.