A 1992 image from the telescope shows what looks like a slightly skew-whiff ‘X’ surrounded by a bright light at the centre of the Whirlpool Galaxy, which is 23.16 million light years from Earth. While NASA says the entity is natural, some claim it is heavenly. Religious conspiracy theorists believe what the image actually depicts is a silhouette of a man hanging from a cross, most probably Jesus at the crucifixion.
This has led some to claim it is the Gateway to Heaven.
One person wrote on conspiracy theorist forum Disclosure.tv: “This is surely a sign that God exists and he is showing us that heaven resides with the very centre of our galaxy.”
Another added: “Maybe this is the light that we need to follow when we die and like Jesus said if you believe in me you will pass into heaven.”
A third person said: “Interesting. I’d say X marks the spot, but it does look like a crucifix. In fact, it looks like a figure hanging off of a crucifix.”
However, according to the Hubble website, the cross appears due to “absorption by dust and marks the exact position of a black hole.
“The darkest bar may be an edge-on dust ring which is 100 light-years in diameter.
“The edge-on torus not only hides the black hole and accretion disk from being viewed directly from Earth, but also determines the axis of a jet of high-speed plasma and confines radiation from the accretion disk to a pair of oppositely directed cones of light, which ionise gas caught in their beam.
“The second bar of the ‘X’ could be a second disk seen edge on, or possibly rotating gas and dust in MS1 intersecting with the jets and ionisation cones.”