Supermassive Black Hole Shoots Jets at Almost the Speed of Light

The well-known supermassive black hole at the core of the M87 galaxy is emitting streams of matter that move at almost the speed of light. Such a black hole, dubbed M87*, situated inside the Messier 87 galaxy, had left astronomers in awe with its recent actions.

Back in 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope shot a picture of M87*, the first-ever photo of a black hole! That picture brought to M87 a lot of fame. The cosmic feature is also named NGC 4486 or Virgo A. It’s a massive elliptical galaxy, positioned in the Virgo galaxy, approximately 53 million light-years away from us.

M87 crosses almost 240,000 light-years, a few more than our galaxy. It’s also enclosed by a significant 12,000 globular star clumps, related to the Milky Way’s small 200. Like other ellipticals, researchers believe that M87 developed so much through mergers.

More About the M87* supermassive black hole

M87* represents a supermassive black hole (SMBH) at the core of M87 with one of the most significant volumes of any SMBH, so far. It is estimated to be almost 6.5 billion times more immense than Sun’s. M87* is 55 million light-years away and blows a relativistic stream of matter that reaches nearly 5,000 light-years into space.

A few years ago, the Hubble telescope shot a famous composite picture of the stream in both infrared and visible light. Researchers have been analyzing M87*’s stream for years now, in various wavelengths, such as X-ray, radio, and optical. Recently, for the first time, Chandra X-ray examinations succeed in displaying that fragments of that stream are traveling at massive speeds, approximately more than 99 % the speed of light.

Ralph Kraft from the Center of Astrophysics, detailed: “This is the first time such extreme speeds by a black hole’s jet have been recorded using X-ray data. We needed the sharp X-ray vision of Chandra to make these measurements.”

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