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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
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.