Scientists capture first direct image of supermassive black hole, 6.5 billion times the size of the Sun, emitting jets of plasma

An image shows the black hole and the jet of matter emanating from it in false-color shades from yellow to purple.

An image shows the jet of matter emanating from the black hole at the center of the galaxy M87. Zoomed in is an image of the black hole’s accretion diskR.-S. Lu (SHAO), E. Ros (MPIfR), S. Dabbiano (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

  • The jets were caught being released from a black hole 6.5 billion times the size of our sun.

  • The image is the first to connect the jets to the supermassive black hole’s edge.

  • It could help us understand how jets, some of the brightest objects in the galaxy, are created.

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

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

The jets fired by black holes can travel hundreds of thousands of light years and are one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

Astronomers hope the latest discovery helps us understand exactly how these jets are created, something that could help unravel the mystery of how galaxies form.

Black holes not only swallow matter, but sometimes expel it

Most galaxies, including ours, revolve around a supermassive black hole. Matter rushes into these black holes, which have such a dense center that gravity traps even light.

That’s why in the last image, the black hole at the center of M87 can be seen as a glowing ring of matter revolving around a black hole.

Jets, on the other hand, are created by matter escaping the black hole.

Material swirling around a black hole must lose speed and energy before it can fall inward. But some of the matter doesn’t slow down fast enough and is redirected away from the black hole along magnetic field lines.

This matter shoots outward in the form of narrow beams, creating the jets, according to NASA.

These jets have amazing properties. Not only are they among the brightest objects in the galaxy, but previous studies have suggested that the particles in these jets can travel at speeds close to light, which is around 670 million mph.

An image shows an illustration of what a jet from a black hole might look like

An artist’s impression of a black hole jet.NASA

A big question is where these jets come from

This new image of the black hole in M87, captured by a collaboration between the Global Millimeter VLBI Array telescopes, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, the European Southern Observatory and the Greenland Telescope, is the first to show how the jet arrives it connects to the ring around the black hole.

Scientists had previously only been able to photograph the jet or black hole individually — an engineering feat in itself — but this is the first time they’ve been able to picture them together.

The new image, published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature, connects the jets to the black hole’s edge, providing an unprecedented view.

“We know that jets are ejected from the region surrounding black holes, but we still don’t fully understand how this actually happens,” said Ru-Sen Lu, first author of the study and an astronomer at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory in China. a press release.

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

“This is the first image where we’re able to pinpoint where the ring is, relative to the powerful jet spewing out of the central black hole,” says Kazunori Akiyama of MIT’s Haystack Observatory, who developed the imaging software. used to view the black hole, he told The Guardian.

“Now we can start tackling questions like how particles are accelerated and heated, and many other mysteries around the black hole, deeper.”

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