Big Bang Monday: M87 Jet

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Taken over a 13-year span, this sequence of Hubble images reveals changes in a black-hole-powered jet of hot gas in the giant elliptical galaxy M87. These images are part of a new time-lapse movie that shows hot plasma spiraling along magnetic field lines generated by the supermassive black hole.

Credit: NASA/ESA/E. Meyer, W. Sparks, J. Biretta, J. Anderson, S.T. Sohn, and R. van der Marel (STScI)/C. Norman (JHU)/M. Nakamura (Academia Sinica)

Read all about it in Astronomy magazine.

Looks much better than the raw images…

This sequence of images, taken over a 13-year span by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, reveals changes in a black-hole-powered jet of hot gas in the giant elliptical galaxy M87. The observations show that the river of plasma, traveling at nearly the speed of light, may follow the spiral structure of the black hole’s magnetic field, which astronomers think is coiled like a helix. The magnetic field is believed to arise from a spinning accretion disk of material around a black hole. Although the magnetic field cannot be seen, its presence is inferred by the confinement of the jet along a narrow cone emanating from the black hole. The visible portion of the jet extends 5,000 light-years. // NASA/ESA/E. Meyer, W. Sparks, J. Biretta, J. Anderson, S.T. Sohn, & R. van der Marel (STScI)/C. Norman (Johns Hopkins University)/M. Nakamura (Academia Sinica)


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