This image of the core of the nearby spiral galaxy M51, taken with the Wide Field Planetary camera (in PC mode) on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, shows a striking , dark “X” silhouetted across the galaxy’s nucleus. The “X” [we would say a cross–SD] is due to absorption by dust and marks the exact position of a black hole which may have a mass equivalent to one-million stars like the sun. The darkest bar may be an edge-on dust ring which is 100 light-years in diameter. The edge-on torus not only hides the black hole and accretion disk from being viewed directly from earth, but also determines the axis of a jet of high-speed plasma and confines radiation from the accretion disk to a pair of oppositely directed cones of light, which ionize gas caught in their beam. The second bar of the “X” could be a second disk seen edge on, or possibly rotating gas and dust in MS1 intersecting with the jets and ionization cones.
The size of the image is 1100 light-years.
[Dear Jesus, grant me the grace, strength, and courage to truly live the Gospel throughout my remaining days; the desire to fight and struggle toward Your Holy Cross and my hopeful salvation. Bless me Jesus during my final moments, so that I may simply glorify Your Will. Lord, I can offer You nothing but my suffering and love. Even though I am a wretched sinner, please take the last beat of my heart, my last breath, and my last thought. O Merciful Savior, place them in Your Sacred Heart so that my final actions and thoughts will forever be within Your unending Mercy. Amen. — SD]