The real monster black hole is revealed in this new image from NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array of colliding galaxies Arp 299. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC

This newly released NASA photo of two galaxies is truly awesome in the true meaning of the word. Each galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its heart, are colliding in a violent spiral of star stuff.

The photos were taken by the new high-energy X-ray Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array or NuSTAR. It is a black hole-hunting telescope in orbit around the Earth. With its primary mission of 2 years that ended last year, it has been given a 2-year mission extension to 2016.

As stated in a NASA press release, the findings will help researchers understand how the merging of galaxies can trigger black holes to start feeding, which is an important step in the evolution of galaxies.

Andrew Ptak of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, writes; “When galaxies collide, gas is sloshed around and driven into their respective nuclei, fueling the growth of black holes and the formation of stars,”. “We want to understand the mechanisms that trigger the black holes to turn on and start consuming the gas”, he adds. Ptak is the lead author of a new study accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.

NASA Press Release