<p>The Hercules A galaxy reveals its superpowered core in an image captured by <a href="http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2014/archives/more.html">NASA's Chandra X-ray space telescope</a>. Lavender and blue superheated gas clouds, meanwhile, swath its center.</p><p dir="ltr">In visible light, the galaxy some two billion light-years away looks like an ellipse. Researchers can only see the luminous core at the heart of <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/hercules-a.html">Hercules A</a> with x-rays.</p><p dir="ltr">Astronomers suspect that the galaxy holds a supermassive black hole that is actively devouring stars and other stellar material. (See: <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/03/black-holes/finkel-text">"Black Hole: Star Eater"</a> in <em>National Geographic</em> magazine.)</p><p dir="ltr"><em>—By Dan Vergano, photo gallery by Mallory Benedict</em></p>

Purple Robes for Hercules

The Hercules A galaxy reveals its superpowered core in an image captured by NASA's Chandra X-ray space telescope. Lavender and blue superheated gas clouds, meanwhile, swath its center.

In visible light, the galaxy some two billion light-years away looks like an ellipse. Researchers can only see the luminous core at the heart of Hercules A with x-rays.

Astronomers suspect that the galaxy holds a supermassive black hole that is actively devouring stars and other stellar material. (See: "Black Hole: Star Eater" in National Geographic magazine.)

—By Dan Vergano, photo gallery by Mallory Benedict

Photograph by X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO, Optical: NASA/STScI, Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA

Week's Best Space Pictures: Hercules Poses, California Gleams, and a Pulsar Puzzles

Purple robes swath a galaxy, shepherds dance above Saturn's rings, and fishing fleets outshine cities in this week's best space pictures.

Read This Next

The science behind seasonal depression
These 3,000-year-old relics were torched and buried—but why?
How the Holocaust happened in plain sight

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet