Blast from supermassive Black Hole

A giant jet spanning continuously from supermassive black hole, for over 300,000 light years, is seen blasting out of the galaxy Pictor A.

The Pictor A galaxy is one such impressive object. This galaxy, located nearly 500 million light years from Earth, contains a supermassive black hole at its center. A huge amount of gravitational energy is released as material swirls towards the event horizon, the point of no return for infalling material. This energy produces an enormous beam, or jet, of particles traveling at nearly the speed of light into intergalactic space.



Chandra observations at various times over a 15-year period provide new details of this impressive system.

The Star Wars franchise has featured the fictitious “Death Star,” which can shoot powerful beams of radiation across space. The Universe, however, produces phenomena that often surpass what science fiction can conjure.

To obtain images of this jet, scientists used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory at various times over 15 years. Chandra’s X-ray data (blue) have been combined with radio data from the Australia Telescope Compact Array (red) in this new composite image.

By studying the details of the structure seen in both X-rays and radio waves, scientists seek to gain a deeper understanding of these huge collimated blasts.



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