This is the first-ever image of a black hole expelling a powerful jet of matter
In 2019, the world was astounded by the first-ever photo of a supermassive black hole. But now, for the first time, astronomers have observed the shadow of a black hole and a powerful jet of matter it expelled – both in the same image.
European Space Observatory (ESO) published the wide-angle photo of the black hole in the center of the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy, also explaining what it is that we see in it.
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Like most galaxies, the M87 also has a supermassive black hole at its center. The groundbreaking image of the galaxy’s central black hole was obtained with telescopes from the Global Millimetre VLBI Array (GMVA), the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and the Greenland Telescope. What you see in the picture is the jet emerging near the black hole, as well as “the shadow of the black hole,” as the scientists call it. “As matter orbits the black hole, it heats up and emits light” ESO explains the concept. “The black hole bends and captures some of this light, creating a ring-like structure around the black hole as seen from Earth. The darkness at the centre of the ring is the black hole shadow.”
The black hole shadow was first observed by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) in 2017 and released in 2019. It gave scientists some context and knowledge to understand how the jet of matter is formed. However, the new observations reveal that the black hole’s ring is 50% larger than the ring observed at by the Event Horizon Telescope,which used shorter radio wavelengths. “This suggests that in the new image we see more of the material that is falling towards the black hole than what we could see with the EHT,” ESO writes.
“While black holes are known for engulfing matter in their immediate vicinity, they can also launch powerful jets of matter that extend beyond the galaxies that they live in,” ESO explains. “Understanding how black holes create such enormous jets has been a long standing problem in astronomy.” Thanks to this image, astronomers can get valuable insight into how these jets are created, leading to better overall understanding of black holes.
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.