June 1, 2023

Brighton Journal

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First image of a supermassive black hole spewing jets of plasma

The image shows the outflow of matter emanating from the black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy. The thumbnail is an image of the black hole’s accretion disk
R. -S. Lu (SHAO), E. Ros (MPIfR), S. Dagnello (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

  • The jets emitted from a black hole 6.5 billion times the size of our Sun have been captured.
  • The image is the first to link the jets to the edge of a supermassive black hole.
  • It can help us understand how the jets, which are some of the brightest objects in the galaxy, are formed.

Scientists have captured the first-ever direct image of a supermassive black hole spewing powerful jets of plasma.

Located at the center of the galaxy M87, 55 million light-years away, the black hole is about 6.5 billion times more massive than our sun.

Jets from black holes can travel hundreds of thousands of light-years away and are one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

Astronomers hope the latest discovery will help us understand exactly how these jets form — something that could help solve the mystery of how galaxies form.

Black holes don’t just swallow matter, they sometimes release it

Most galaxies, including our own, revolve around a supermassive black hole. Matter falls into these black holes, which have a center so dense that gravity blocks even light.

That’s why in the last image, the black hole at M87’s center can be seen as a bright ring of matter orbiting the dark hole.

However, the jets are created from matter that escapes from the black hole.

Matter orbiting a black hole must lose speed and energy before it can fall inward. But some of this matter does not slow down fast enough and is redirected away from the black hole along the magnetic field lines.

This substance shoots outward in the form of narrow beams, forming the jets, According to NASA.

These planes have incredible characteristics. Not only are they among the brightest objects in the galaxy, But previous studies They proposed that the particles in these jets could travel at close to the speed of light, which is about 670 million miles per hour.

An artist’s impression of a jet black hole.

The big question is where do these jets come from

This new image of M87’s black hole, taken by a collaboration between telescopes from the Global Millimeter VLBI Array, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, the European Southern Observatory, and the Greenland Telescope, is the first to show how the jet comes in contact with the ring around Black hole.

Scientists had previously only been able to capture either the jet or the black hole individually — a feat of engineering in itself — but this is the first time they’ve been able to image them together.

The new photo is published in the peer-reviewed magazine Nature on Wednesdayconnecting the jets to the edge of the black hole, providing an unprecedented view.

“We know that jets shoot out from the region around black holes, but we still don’t fully understand how this actually happens,” Ro Sen Lusaid the first author of the study and an astronomer from the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory in China, in a press release.

“To study this directly, we need to observe the origin of the jet as close as possible to the black hole,” he said.

Kazunori Akiyama, of MIT’s Haystack Observatory, who developed the imaging software used to visualize black apertures, he told the Guardian.

“We can now begin to address questions such as how particles are accelerated and heated, and many other mysteries about the black hole, more deeply.”

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