First Images of Particle Jets at Edge of a Supermassive Black Hole

First Images of Particle Jets at Edge of a Supermassive Black Hole

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Supermassive black holes appear to occupy the center of almost all galaxies. When they are actively swallowing matter, these black holes can power energetic jets that shine brighter than the entire rest of the galaxy, and can shoot matter free of it. Despite the mass and energy involved, however, the origin of these jets has been extremely hard to image, both because they’re relatively compact, and because they’re situated in the crowded centers of distant galaxies.

Now, however, researchers are putting together an array of telescopes stretched across the globe with the specific goal of imaging the environment near these supermassive black holes. The team behind the Event Horizon Telescope has now used it to image the black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy, and returned the first details of the disk of matter that is being sucked into that galaxy’s central black hole.

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