Feeds

Extragalactic black hole particle fountain awesomeness

Boffins use scope as big as Earth to craft stunning snap

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.