AUSTIN, TEXAS—A compact cluster of young, blue stars surrounds the invisible supermassive black hole in the very core of the Andromeda Galaxy in this ultrasharp image obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope. To the upper left of the cluster is a swarm of redder stars, orbiting the black hole at a much larger distance. The image, one of the sharpest ever made with the orbiting observatory, was presented here today at the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The blue stars must have formed in the vicinity of the 100-million-solar-mass black hole within the past 200 million years or so. Astronomers are at a loss explaining how stars can form and survive in such a hostile environment.
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