NASA has recently spied a black-hole explosion from a galaxy far, far away.
Seen above (and below) is the Pictor A Galaxy. Located roughly 500 million light years from Earth, this galaxy contains a super massive black hole at its center that is capable of producing some of the Universe’s most wild phenomena.
As large amounts of gravitational energy fall towards the event horizon, energy produces an enormous beam (or jet) of matter that ejects into intergalactic space at nearly the speed of light. Recently, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory observed this jet spewing highly charged particles into outer space.
This image took a remarkable 15 years to produce with combined data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Australian Telescope Compact Array. Chandra’s data is shown in blue, where the array’s radio data is shown in red.
Pictora and it’s jets are enormous. They’re bigger than our galaxy. Just one jet (the rightmost emission) spans a distance of over 300,000 light years. The Milky Way is roughly 100,000 light years in diameter.
Seen here is a labelled image that shows the super massive black hole, it’s jets, and it’s radio lobes. Radio lobes are akin to sonic booms from aircraft, whereby a black hole jet pushes into surrounding gas and a hotspot is caused by shock waves.
Studying details of this structure will help scientists gain a deeper understanding of massive collimated blasts and the mechanisms behind producing the jet’s X-Ray emissions.
A paper detailing the results of this image is to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and will be available online. The authors are Martin Hardcastle from the University of Hertfordshire in the UK, Emil Lenc from the University of Sydney in Australia, Mark Birkinshaw from the University of Bristol in the UK, Judith Croston from the University of Southampton in the UK, Joanna Goodger from the University of Hertfordshire, Herman Marshall from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, Eric Perlman from the Florida Institute of Technology, Aneta Siemiginowska from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA, Lukasz Stawarz from Jagiellonian University in Poland and Diana Worrall from the University of Bristol.
Image: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Hertfordshire/M. Hardcastle et al.; Radio: CSIRO/ATNF/ATC
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