Astronomers have captured the first direct image of a black hole expelling a powerful jet of matter – one of the most mysterious features in the universe.
Data gathered from several telescopes worldwide shows a glowing doughnut at the heart of a galaxy known as Messier 87 (M87), which is around 55million light years from Earth. One light year is equivalent to about 6,000,000,000,000miles.
The image also shows a bright, mighty jet emerging from the black hole that is connected with the matter swirling around it. M87 is a supermassive black hole, around 6.5billion times more massive than the Sun.
An image of this black hole was first captured four years ago, which showed a fuzzy, fiery doughnut-shaped object but not its jet.
‘This new image completes the picture by showing the region around the black hole and the jet at the same time,’ said Jae-Young Kim, from the Kyungpook National University in South Korea and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany.
Using data from 14 telescopes, astronomers were able to create an image of the M87 black hole showing a powerful jet emerging from its shadow – the dark region encircled by the bright light ring.
This bright ring is created by material glowing very hot as it circles the black hole.
The European Southern Observatory said the current image was obtained using radio light emitted at a longer wavelength, which made the jet visible.
Thomas Krichbaum, of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, said: ‘At this wavelength, we can see how the jet emerges from the ring of emission around the central supermassive black hole.’
The researchers said they will continue to investigate how supermassive black holes emit powerful jets – one of the galaxy’s most mysterious features.
‘We plan to observe the region around the black hole at the centre of M87 at different radio wavelengths to further study the emission of the jet,’ said Eduardo Ros, from the Max Planck Institute.
‘Such simultaneous observations would allow the team to disentangle the complicated processes that happen near the supermassive black hole.
‘The coming years will be exciting, as we will be able to learn more about what happens near one of the most mysterious regions in the Universe.’
The observations are described in the journal Nature.
Source: Read Full Article