Science & Tech

Supermassive black hole observed firing out jet in mysterious image

Supermassive black hole observed firing out jet in mysterious image
Black holes chew up wayward stars like a ‘messy toddler’

Scientists have observed a supermassive black hole expelling out a mysterious jet in world-first images.

The supermassive black hole is located at the centre of a galaxy known as Messier 87 (M87) and is around 55 million light-years from Earth.

Its mass is 6.5 billion times that of the sun and scientists, for the first time, have been able to compile data from multiple telescopes worldwide to see a sizeable bright jet emerging from it.

Jae-Young Kim from the Kyungpook National University in South Korea and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany, said: “This new image completes the picture by showing the region around the black hole and the jet at the same time.”

The black hole itself was first captured in images four years ago, but now scientists have been able to view the doughnut-shaped object with its jet as well.

The European Southern Observatory explained that the new images with the jet visible were made possible by using radio light emitted at a longer wavelength.

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They were comprised using data gathered from fourteen different telescopes in countries including Greenland and Chile. With the information, a powerful jet can be seen emerging from the shadow, which in images appears as the dark region encircled by the bright ring around it.

The bright glowing comes from burning hot material that surrounds the black hole, giving it a doughnut shape.

A view of the jet and shadow of M87’s black holeR.-S. Lu (SHAO), E. Ros (MPIfR), S. Dagnello (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

Black holes remain one of the most mysterious celestial entities, but researchers said they would continue to monitor and investigate how the black hole is able to emit such powerful jets.

Eduardo Ros, from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, said: “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.

“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.”

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