Feeds

Black hole spews out 2-million-light-year-long stream of WTF

Boffins spot X-ray blasting, star-stopping cosmic jet

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Astronomers have spotted a supersonic cosmic jet blasting two million light years from the centre of a distant galaxy's supermassive black hole.

Supermassive black hole

The jet, which looks like the afterburner of a fighter plane, is moving at nearly the speed of light and its origins and composition are a mystery.

A picture snapped by the CSIRO-managed Australia Telescope Compact Array radio telescope shows a pattern of regularly spaced areas that are brighter than the rest of the jet, just like the afterburner of a plane.

Jets like this one are known to be produced when something falls into the supermassive black hole at the centre of galaxies, but that's all that boffins know about them.

"Massive jets like this one have been studied for decades, since the beginning of radio astronomy, but we still don't understand exactly how they are produced or what they're made of," said Dr Leith Godfrey from the Curtin University node of The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.

Supersonic cosmic jet coming from supermassive black hole

"If the brighter patches are caused by the same process in astronomical jets as they are in earthly jet engines, then the distance between them can give us important information about the power of the jet and the density of the surrounding space."

The jets are the largest things in the Universe, around a hundred times bigger than the Milky Way and they can affect the most fundamental processes like the formation of galaxies.

"If we want to understand how galaxies form and grow, we need to understand these jets. They are extremely powerful and are believed to stop stars forming in their parent galaxy, limiting how big the galaxies can grow and effecting how the universe looks today," Godfrey said.

The new image shows detail that researchers have never seen before, including the emission of X-rays.

"This particular jet emits a lot of X-rays, which is hard to explain with our current models. Our new find is a step forward in understanding how these giant objects emit so much X-ray radiation, and indirectly, will help us understand how the jet came to be," co-author Jim Lovell from the University of Tasmania said.

The study was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
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?