Black Hole Snapshot

  • Released Thursday, June 28, 2012

Although it seems improbable to use radio frequencies to see anything—let alone the high-speed particle jets of a supermassive black hole—astronomers have done just that. Using a global array of radio telescopes, a team including NASA-funded scientists has created a fine-resolution radio image that reveals the innermost jets at the center of galaxy Centaurus A, 12 million light-years from Earth. The detail in the image is equivalent to spotting a quarter from 5,000 miles away. As gases fall into the black hole at Centaurus A's core, the material gets accelerated outward, creating huge plumes of matter in a process not fully understood. Watch the video to see the vast size of the galaxy's plumes compared to the relative smallness of the black-hole-powered jet that created them.

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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Radio telescope image of jets courtesy of NASA/TANAMI/Müller et al.
Visible light image courtesy of Capella Observatory
Optical/radio/visible image courtesy of Capella Observatory with radio data from Ilana Feain, Tim Cornwell, and Ron Ekers (CSIRO/ATNF), R. Morganti (ASTRON) and N. Junkes (MPIfR)

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This page was originally published on Thursday, June 28, 2012.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:52 PM EDT.