At the center of most galaxies piecing everything around it together lies a supermassive black hole, constantly emitting an abundance of energy. On February 14 2018, astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/ submillimeter Array (ALMA) were able to take a clear image of the center of M77 (NGC 1068), a large spiral galaxy 45 million light years away. The image showed a rotating gas torus surrounding the supermassive black hole. Such ‘donuts’ have been theorized to exist decades ago, but this is the first time one has been officially confirmed and seen in such high resolution. Slightly ominous-looking, isn’t it?
The torus seems asymmetrical and the rotation does not follow the gravity of the black hole, possibly indicating a violent past, such as a merging (devouring in this case) of galaxies in. M77 is a massive galaxy, about 170,000 lightyears in diameter. An interesting picture, to say the least. It makes one wonder what sort of faces our own Milky Way Galaxy’s center is making.