Some of the most breathtaking views of our sky can be seen at sunset, when sunlight pierces the clouds, creating a mixture of bright and dark rays formed by cloud shadows and beams of sun scattered by the atmosphere. Astronomers studying the galaxy IC 5063 nearby are stunned by a similar effect in this new image of the NASA/ THAT Hubble Space Telescope. In this case, a collection of narrow bright rays and dark shadows radiates out of the bright glowing center of the active galaxy, shooting across at least 36,000 light years.
Astronomers have traced the rays back to the core of the galaxy, an active ultra-active setting black hole. The black hole feeds on infalling material, producing a powerful gusher of light from heated gas close by. Although the researchers have developed several plausible theories for the light show, the most interesting idea suggests that the shadows were cast into space by an inner tube-shaped ring, or torus, of dusty material around the hole black.
IC 5063 lives 156 million light years from Earth.