Image: A supermassive black hole in action

Image: A supermassive black hole in action
Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Baum & C. O’Dea (RIT), R. Perley & W. Cotton (NRAO/AUI/NSF), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Scientists often use the combined power of multiple telescopes to reveal the secrets of the Universe – and this image is a prime example of when this technique is strikingly effective.

The yellow-hued object at the centre of the frame is an known as Hercules A, seen by the Earth-orbiting NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. In normal light, an observer would only see this object floating in the inky blackness of space.

However, view Hercules A with a radio telescope, and the entire region is completely transformed. Stunning red–pink jets of material can be seen billowing outwards from the galaxy – jets that are completely invisible in visible light. They are shown here as seen by the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array radio observatory in New Mexico, USA. These radio observations were combined with the Hubble visible-light data obtained with the Wide Field Camera 3 to create this striking composite.

The two jets are composed of hot, high-energy plasma that has been flung from the centre of Hercules A, a process that is driven by a lurking at the galaxy's heart. This black hole is some 2.5 billion times the mass of the Sun, and around a thousand times more massive than the black hole at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy.

Hercules A's black hole heats material and accelerates it to nearly the speed of light, sending it flying out into space at phenomenally high speeds. These highly focused jets lose energy as they travel, eventually slowing down and spreading out to form the cloud-like lobes seen here.

The multiple bright rings and knots seen within these lobes suggest that the black hole has sent out numerous successive bursts of material over the course of its history. The stretch for around 1.5 million light-years – roughly 15 times the size of the Milky Way.

Hercules A, also known as 3C 348, lies around two billion light-years away. It is one of the brightest sources of radio emission outside our Galaxy.


Explore further

A multi-wavelength view of radio galaxy Hercules A

Citation: Image: A supermassive black hole in action (2015, November 17) retrieved 22 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-11-image-supermassive-black-hole-action.html
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Nov 17, 2015
The scale is terrifying and the image is beautiful.

Nov 17, 2015
Looking at this photo man, can you consider that this is a super massive black hole? Very dificult. Even elementary particle must move with the greater speed than the speed of light to be passible to escape from the gravity of a hypothetical black hole, if is located at the surface of an imaginary sphere called the event horizon. When it cross this sphere this particle must have at least th espeed of light and will gain infinite mass according to GR? Therefore will acquire infinite momentum greater than the momentum of the black hole. In this case nothing will stop this particle tio move in strait drection and cross the black hole without filling it. Too many paradoxes with GR.

Nov 17, 2015
Why theorist that defend this theory not consider by analogy the pasibillity that one elementary particle can be as masive as the whole galaxy for example, if the properties of the vacuum of space are localy tuned accordingly? Sucjh special particles can fold th eiontegrity of cosmic structures for a while.

Nov 17, 2015
Looking at this photo man, can you consider that this is a super massive black hole?

Of course I can.
Very dificult.

Not really.
Too many paradoxes with GR.

Well yeah, if GR is that wild thing you just made up before you said that sentence, that was quite crazy, I agree. Fortunately, none of that is how black holes are thought to work.

Nov 17, 2015
From our vantage point, do you notice that there seems to be a tug pulling from the direction of the lower part of the image that is bending the direction of flow of the stream? what is causing that??

Nov 17, 2015
Gravity does not have any mechanism to create jets, quite unlike EM/ plasma processes which readily create such jets. It's quite remarkable the dolts continue to suggest these are gravity driven phenomena, obviously blinded by their "knowledge".

Nov 17, 2015
It's quite remarkable you still post and spread your ignornace cantdrive. You're obviously blinded by your "special knowledge" of plasmas.

Nov 17, 2015
Moreover, who says gravity is creating jets cantdrive?

"While it is not known exactly how accretion discs manage to produce jets, they are thought to generate tangled magnetic fields that cause the jets to collimate. The hydrodynamics of a de Laval nozzle may also give a hint to the mechanisms involved."

I've never even heard of someone attributing jets just to just gravity. But if you have evidence to the contrary, please, present it.

Nov 18, 2015
to SuperThunder:

I agree. I showed the picture to my 8 year old stepson, and explained the whole cosmic death ray thing to him, and pointed out the galaxies in the photo. His eyes got big as golf balls, lol.

to viko_mx:

The jets don't come from inside the black hole. Many objects are seen to produce jets, in addition to black holes. The velocity of the jet is always found to be slightly lower than the escape velocity of the central object, so the jets of a black hole are seen to have a velocity slightly below the speed of light. Other objects that produce jets have much lower jet velocities.

It's still an open question as to how the jets are formed, but the two most popular theories are that they are produced by either the magnetic field of the central object or the rotation of the accretion disc around the central object, through conservation of angular momentum.

You can read about Astrophysical or Relativistic jets on wiki if you want a good place to start.

Nov 18, 2015
to daqqdyo:

I wouldn't get too wrapped up in the visual appearance of the jets from our point of view. What you can and can't see may be subject to uneven illumination or partial obfuscation.

Additionally, realize that what you're looking at was created over a very long period of time, so it's like you're looking at a history of the jet. The ends of the jets are from when the jet first started working, and it could have been wobbling around its axis or precessing at that time. In that case, the jet would appear to bend at the end, but it would just be due to the jet moving around a little.

At the scale of the plumes, it would take something like a large galaxy cluster to affect the path of the jets, and a large galaxy cluster would be hard to miss in the photo. Even if there were such a cluster, I don't think it would have an effect on the bulk path of the jet material in the way you are suggesting, so I'm betting on a wobbly source.

Nov 18, 2015
What will be the effect on nearest environment if on the place of the hypothetical black hole is placed massive rotating magnet and ionized gas around it?

Nov 18, 2015
Additionally, realize that what you're looking at was created over a very long period of time, so it's like you're looking at a history of the jet.

Yes. Even moving at close to the speed of light we're looking at millions of years (at least) between the farthest fronts and the central region. Even galaxies move noticeably within that timeframe (and/or get shifted around by neighboring galaxies)

Nov 18, 2015
What will be the effect on nearest environment if on the place of the hypothetical black hole is placed massive rotating magnet and ionized gas around it?

Who cares?
There is not enough neodymium around, nobody is strong enough to put it there, it's far far away.
Except for your creator, no one can pull it off (hint).

Nov 18, 2015
From our vantage point, do you notice that there seems to be a tug pulling from the direction of the lower part of the image that is bending the direction of flow of the stream? what is causing that??

Could be the movement of the host galaxy, and therefore the movement of the central BH. The jets in the image are estimated to be 1.5m light years in length.

Nov 18, 2015
What will be the effect on nearest environment if on the place of the hypothetical black hole is placed massive rotating magnet and ionized gas around it?

Who cares?
There is not enough neodymium around, nobody is strong enough to put it there, it's far far away.
Except for your creator, no one can pull it off (hint).

So you admit that it would require a god to prove the standard theory, BH's, or the big bung. Nor does it bother you (who cares?) that your beloved ideology is not falsifiable. That's about right!

Nov 18, 2015
What will be the effect on nearest environment if on the place of the hypothetical black hole is placed massive rotating magnet and ionized gas around it?


We believe this is already the case. We believe black holes do have strong magnetic fields, and the material circling a black hole in its accretion disc is ionized.

These two beliefs are key factors in both of the most popular theories about what causes the jets. Keep in mind that we currently lack both the observations and the computational power to really say what's going on around a real black hole.

It's without any doubt, one of the coolest things to think about in the Universe. If we ever figure out how those jets work, it's sure to lead to engineering and science we can't dream of right now, which makes it ironic that we might need to learn things we can't imagine yet before we are able to figure it out.

Nov 18, 2015
I talk about pure cosmic magnet excluding the fictional black hole.

Nov 18, 2015
Actually, if one considers the Fractal Scaled Universe Theory where subatomic events can be correlated to cosmic scale events, in a one to one fashion, this shows that out "Super Universe", the one with the observes superstructures so far mapped, happen to be matter expanding and since the jets are being stopped by the interstellar medium (plasma) we can infer that the Super Universe is, in it's own timeframe, only minutes along after the 'Big Bang' in It's Creation.

Fusion, the combining of galaxies and the release of energy as jets and heat (See Centarus A* ) and this is happening all around us, in larger and larger clusters with larger spaces between. Dense matter moving into less dense, yet with structure and magnetic fields and apparently electron flow, yet on such a scale as to stagger. My description of a magnetic field stellarized galaxy before I tried to show was an 'old atom', thus magnetic, and would have to be Iron. Lots to learn folks, open mind.

Nov 18, 2015
Were the Super Universe further along in it's expansion, we would see thee jets continuing and not being stopped, they would be Photons, the wavelength dependent on the preccession, high energy beams would be from rapidly preccesing, high energy black holes of galactic magnitude. Such beams presently form more matter around the parent BH. How this fits the quantum to cosmic scale is an interesting point, as I have seen that this can be an alpha particle, or perhaps a Beta, but a gamma would have to be a much more energetic event.

An open mind can work wonders. If we can see in the sky what we are looking for with CERN, it might make some correlations and bring about a much different tech based on the real properties of matter, plasma and energy and how they correlate.

Nov 18, 2015
I talk about pure cosmic magnet excluding the fictional black hole.


Ah, so you're just trolling. You win. You should google pure cosmic magnets and give us a wall of text explaining them to all of us here. That would be super.

to Steelwolf:

and since the jets are being stopped by the interstellar medium


That's not correct. The jets aren't being stopped. They are still going like a bat out of h_ll, at nearly the speed of light. Also, I should point out that your sense of scale is way off. The interstellar medium is what you find inside galaxies. Those jets are way bigger than a galaxy, and they would be interacting with the intergalactic medium, not interstellar, if anything were actually slowing them down in a significant amount.

So, you need to completely re-think the rest of what you said after that, since it's based on the false idea that the jets are encountering some kind of resistance.

Nov 18, 2015
Thanks, guys, for bringing up galactic shift, and that we're looking at an image across time as well as space. It really added to the enjoyment of the article for me, and why I love the comments section when it's sane.

Nov 18, 2015
to SuperThunder:

Yeah, it's really a WOW moment when you realize the scale of these jets, in both time and space. They are like intergalactic tree rings in some ways, and I think that's really cool. And what's even more cool, is that's only the most basic things about them. If you keep peeling back the layers of the onion, getting down to more and more technical details about these things, they just keep getting more and more mind-blowingly awesome.

Nov 18, 2015
Here is another view in radio;

http://chandra.ha...adio.jpg

It's interesting when the "noise" is stripped away, the flow of matter becomes more apparent. The left lobe appears to demonstrate an ever tightening swirl into a vortex, matter flowing "down the drain" into the galaxy as it would appear.

The right lobe appears to have plumes of matter like an exhaust flowing away from the galaxy.

Oh, one more item, galactic jets such as these are fully predictable in Plasma Cosmology. When real plasma concepts are employed such as plasmoids and Birkeland currents, these jets are an expected outcome.
http://www.plasma...PS-I.pdf

Nov 19, 2015
In the dark ages the majority of people believe that the Earth is flat. That was the believing of scientific community in that time. Now the majority of scientist whose are hoping for a cloudless career (I not say intensionally scientific), believe in GR and Big Bang. I can see the correlation in the mindset of these people.

The truth is not determined by consensus. Judging from the history, it has always been available to the minority.


Nov 19, 2015
Tell me what ideas offers this site?. I prefer personal explanations. These give more information which interests me Can you defend personally your ideas with scientific arguments or not? If you can not, your believes are very weak a can not rely facts.

Nov 19, 2015
What will be the effect on nearest environment if on the place of the hypothetical black hole is placed massive rotating magnet and ionized gas around it?


I talk about pure cosmic magnet excluding the fictional black hole.


Not sure if you are suggesting a giant magnetic sphere of FeNi or a magnetar...

But lets say you take a large spinning magnet made of either Iron/Nickel or Neutrons of equal mass to the "hypothetical" BH and crush it down to the same amount of space. Add a disk of ionized gas around it I bet it would look surprisingly similar to what you see here...lol.

I love that you prefer personal explanations of things to the scientific/data-based argument. I long for the day when you speak English well enough to be intelligible.

Nov 20, 2015
With the different tunes (reprogramming) of the properties of the vacuum of space, elementary particles can gain quite different behavior. So we can not know how are made cosmic magnets. We can only observe from very long long distance their effects on the nearest to them vicinity.

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