Wednesday, June 29, 2022

This is the scheme of our supermassive black hole jet

This schematic is based on multiwavelength observations of a suspected jet from the massive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. 

The wide view shows our galaxy edge-on, with two huge bubbles of plasma glowing in gamma-rays and X-rays. These are evidence for an explosive outburst from the black hole about 2 million years ago. Probing deep into the galaxy's core (inset), astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have captured a glowing cloud of hydrogen near the black hole. 

The interpretation is that the cloud is being hit by a narrow, columnated jet of material that was blasted out of the black hole merely 2,000 years ago. The black hole is still active, but on a smaller scale of energy output than previously known outbursts. When the jet slams into the hydrogen knot the outflow scatters into octopus-like tendrils that continue along a trajectory out of our galaxy.


ILLUSTRATION: NASA, ESA, Gerald Cecil (UNC-Chapel Hill), Dani Player (STScI)

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