New images taken Event horizon telescope (EHT) show a powerful jet ejected from a supermassive black hole in unprecedented detail.
The images show a jet emitted by a black hole in the center. Centaurus A a galaxy with ten times greater precision and sixteen times resolution than was possible before.
“This allows us to see and study extragalactic radiojet for the first time on a scale smaller than the distance that light travels in one day,” said astronomer Michael Janssen of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany and Radbaud University in the Netherlands. in a statement… “We personally see how a monstrously giant jet launched by a supermassive black hole is born.”
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The EHT data show massive fractions of radio emission from the black hole, which appears to be quite tiny when viewed from Earth. At a magnification of 1 billion times, the scientists said the black hole would be the size of an apple on the surface of the moon as viewed from Earth, while the petals of radio waves, or jets, would be 16 times wider. like the moon itself. However, the black hole at the center of Centauri A has a mass of 55 million suns.
Galaxy Centaurus A, also known as NGC 5128 or Caldwell 77, is one of the brightest and largest objects in the night sky when observed in radio waves. In 1949, a galaxy in the constellation Centaurus was identified as the first known source of radio waves outside of our galaxy. Milky Way…
“It’s amazing that we can now study Centaurus A at extreme EHT resolution,” said Macek Wilgus, study co-author and researcher at the Center for Astrophysics at the Harvard and Smithsonian Institutes, in a statement. “We’ve never seen this core before, as we didn’t have a high enough resolution and we didn’t look at high enough frequencies.”
He added that the black hole at the center of Centauri A is very different from the hole at the center of the Milky Way, which also studies the EHT, and emits much more energy.
The new images are based on measurements from the 2017 imaging campaign, which captured the first images of the black hole at its center. Messier 87 galaxy.
The observations were made possible thanks to the EHT collaboration, which brings together 8 radio observatories around the world, which work together as one telescope the size of the Earth. The partnership creates incredibly powerful observations because the resolution of the radio image is limited by the size of the receiving telescope.
Scientists are still not figuring out what drives them to create mysterious black hole jets, a splash of material that somehow manages to escape the powerful pull of black holes and, instead of being trapped in its blackness, end up traveling millions of light-years beyond the size of the galaxies in which they originated.
The new images also show that areas of the jet farther from the center are brighter than parts closer to the black hole – an as yet unexplained phenomenon that has been observed previously.
“In theory, the jets could collide with galactic gas and heat its edge, but the details of such a process so close to the black hole is a complete mystery,” said Kushik Chatterjee, study co-author and researcher at the Center for Astrophysics. Harvard & Smithsonian said in a statement. “The contrast in brightness between center and edge has the potential to give us new insights into plasma physics both in and around the jet, making Centauri A an exciting target for simulating next generation black holes.”
In the future, researchers plan to use space telescopes to capture images of the environment surrounding the black hole in the center of Centaurus A at even shorter wavelengths and with even higher resolution, according to the statement. The ultimate goal is to get images of the central black hole, not its immediate surroundings – akin to what the team did for the black hole at the center of M87.
The study is described in a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy on Monday (July 19).
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