The images reveal the outflow from the black hole in the center of Centaurus A The galaxy has ten times higher resolution and sixteen times sharper resolution than previously possible.
“This allows us for the first time to see and study an extragalactic radio jet at scales smaller than the distance traveled by light in a day,” said astronomer Michael Janssen of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany and Radboud University in the Netherlands. in the current situation. “We see up close and personal how a monstrously giant jet is being born from a supermassive black hole.”
The EHT data reveals massive lobes of radio emissions from a black hole that appear rather insignificant when observed from Earth. The scientists said in the statement that when magnified by a factor of up to a billion, the black hole the size of an apple on the surface of the Moon will appear from Earth, while the radio lobes, or jets, will be 16 times as wide. Like the moon itself. However, the black hole at the center of Centaurus A has a mass of 55 million Suns.
Centaurus A, also known as NGC 5128 or Caldwell 77, is one of the brightest and most massive objects in the night sky when observed at radio wavelengths. In 1949, a galaxy in the constellation Centaurus was identified as the first known source of radio waves outside our galaxy, Milky Way.
“It’s amazing that we can now study Centaurus A with so much accuracy from the EHT,” Masek Wilgus, co-author of the study and a researcher at the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in the statement. “We’ve never seen this core before, where we didn’t have high enough resolutions and we weren’t looking for high enough frequencies.”
He added that the black hole at the center of Centaurus A looks very different from the hole in the center of the Milky Way, which the EHT is also studying, and is emitting more energy.
The new images come from measurements obtained during the 2017 imaging campaign, which produced the first-ever images of a black hole, those at the center of a black hole. Messier 87 galaxy.
The observations are made possible thanks to the EHT collaboration, which brings together 8 radio observatories around the world working together as a single Earth-sized telescope. The partnership creates incredibly powerful observations because the resolution of the radio image is limited by the size of the telescope receiving the signal.
Scientists are still figuring out what drives the mystery black hole jets, sprays of material that somehow manage to escape the powerful clouds of black holes and instead of being trapped within their blackness ends up traveling millions of light years across distances larger than the size of the galaxies in which they originated.
The new images also reveal that the regions of the jet farther from the center are brighter than the parts closest to the black hole, a hitherto unexplained phenomenon observed previously.
“Theoretically, the jets could collide with galactic gas and heat the edge, but the details of such a process so close to the black hole are a complete mystery,” Kaushik Chatterjee, a co-author and researcher at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian said in the statement. “The contrast of brightness between the center and the edge potentially provides us with new insights into the plasma physics in and around the jets, making Centaurus A an exciting target for simulating the next generation of black holes.”
In the future, the researchers plan to use space telescopes to image the environment around the black hole at Centaurus A’s center at shorter wavelengths and with higher resolution, according to the statement. The end goal is to get images of the central black hole itself rather than its immediate surroundings – the equivalent of what the team did for the black hole at the center of M87.
The search is described in a study Published in Nature Astronomy on Monday (July 19).
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