Black Hole at Work

BlackHolePoweredJetsThis composite image of a galaxy is built up from X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), visible light data from Hubble (gold), and radio astronomy data from the Very Large Array (pink). It shows how the intense gravity of a supermassive black hole can be tapped to generate vast amounts of energy.

4C+29.30 is a galaxy located 850 million light years or so from Earth. The radio emissions come from two jets of particles that are speeding outward at thousands of km/s from a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. The guesstimated mass of the black hole is on the order of 100,000,000 times our Sun’s. The jets show larger areas of radio emission located outside the galaxy.

The X-ray data show the location of hot gas in the galaxy. The bright X-rays in the center of the image come from a pool of 1,000,000° gas around the black hole. Some of this gas could wind up being eaten by the black hole, and the magnetized, whirlpool of gas near the black hole could, in turn, feed more energy to the radio jet.

Most of the low-energy X-rays from the vicinity of the black hole are absorbed by a doughnut of dust and gas surrounding the black hole. The doughnut blocks the visible light produced near the black hole; astronomers call this type of source as a hidden or buried black hole. The visible light seen in the image is from the stars in the galaxy.

Image Credit: NASA

1 thought on “Black Hole at Work

  1. Pingback: Black Hole Jets Encounter Galaxy | David Reneke | Space and Astronomy News

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