Astronomers Study 2-Million-Light-Year ‘Extragalactic Afterburner’

Astronomers Study 2-Million-Light-Year ‘Extragalactic Afterburner’

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Blasting over two million lights years from the centre of a distant galaxy is a supersonic jet of material that looks strikingly similar to the afterburner flow of a fighter jet, except in this case the jet engine is a supermassive black hole and the jet material is moving at nearly the speed of light.

Research published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters shows the galaxy-scale jet to have bright and dark regions, similar to the phenomenon in an afterburner exhaust called ‘shock diamonds.’ A new image of the previously studied jet reveals regularly spaced areas that are brighter than the rest of the jet in a pattern that echoes the way the afterburner from a jet engine has brighter diamond-shaped areas in its general glow.

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