Feeds

Extragalactic black hole particle fountain awesomeness

Boffins use scope as big as Earth to craft stunning snap

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Pic International boffins, by cunningly melding together images from mighty radio telescopes situated across the southern hemisphere, have produced this excellent pic of stupendous particle jets belching from a huge "supermassive" black hole 12 million light years away in the far-off galaxy Centaurus A.

Particle jets belching from the supermassive black hole at the centre of Centaurus A. Credit: ESO/WFI (visible); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (microwave); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)

Matter-rending, space-warping, radio radiating particle pulchritude pictured.

The imagery generated in the study can be zoomed in massively to show a comparatively small region of space just 4.2 light-years across with the central black hole of Centaurus A – massing some 55 million times as much as our Sun – at the middle. The jets of particles squirting from it are thought to be travelling at as much as a third of light speed: these jets have created two immense clouds of radio-emitting particles each a million light-years long, making Centaurus A one of the biggest and brightest things in the sky when looking in radio frequencies. To radio eyes, the faraway galaxy and its particle "lobes" are 20 times the size of a full moon.

Exactly why and how the colossal black hole emits these particle jets is poorly understood. Most of the matter it sucks in cannot escape, but some is thrown out with enormous violence even as the rest is crushed down into unfeasibly dense incrediblo-stuff.

"These jets arise as infalling matter approaches the black hole, but we don't yet know the details of how they form and maintain themselves," says Cornelia Müller of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

The snapping of so detailed a picture at such a vast distance was no simple matter. Müller and her colleagues essentially combined nine different radio telescopes into a single mighty instrument as big as the entire planet, thus achieving the resolution necessary to pick out objects as small as 15 light-days in size, even across the vasty intergalactic gulf between our Milky Way and Centaurus A.

There's more multimedia courtesy of NASA here, and the forthcoming boffinry writeup of the research can be viewed here ahead of publication in the June issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.