Close to the heart of the supermassive black hole, M 87, hot plasma jets were spotted ejecting at 99.5 of light speed. This was the first time such an event has been captured, as last year, only a shadow of the black hole could be seen on the Event Horizon Telescope.
Anton Zensus, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and EHT Collaboration Board, emphasizes the achievement as a global effort.
Jae-Young Kim, the lead author, together with his colleagues, traced the jet back to its discharge point. It was approximately near the location of where violently variable radiation from the electromagnetic spectrum emerged.
The astrophysical jets discovered by the team have been identified as a quasar. A quasar is a massive and bright distant celestial object that emits vast amounts of energy. The quasar, known as 3C-279, had features that measured to a level finer than a light-year across.
Galaxy Messier 87
The elliptical supermassive black hole whose image has been captured is called Galaxy Messier 87 or simply Galaxy M87. It is home to several trillion stars, a supermassive black hole, and a family of roughly 15,000 globular star clusters.
If you compare it to our Milky Way galaxy, ours only contains a few hundred billion stars and about 150 globular clusters. It is also about a billion times more massive than the Sun and is located at the center of the galaxy five billion light-years away from Earth.
Discovered in 1781 by Charles Messier, to whom it was named after, this monstrous galaxy is the superior member of the neighboring Virgo cluster of galaxies, containing about 2,000 galaxies.
What's fascinating about M87 is its blue jet near the center and the infinite star-like globular cluster scattered throughout the image. The jet contains a surge of material being powered by the black hole and is ejected from the galaxy's core.
While gaseous elements from the center of the galaxy form onto the black hole, the energy released generates a stream of subatomic fragments that are hastened to velocities comparable to the speed of light.
Event Horizon Telescope
The EHT used a technique called very long baseline interferometry to capture the new image. It uses a method that meshes radio dishes all around the world, particularly the South Pole, Hawaii, Europe and America. The observations depend on a network of widely spaced radio antennas.
The network then further enables the EHT to resolve objects as small as 20 micro-arcseconds in the sky. This is comparable to someone on Earth being able to identify an orange on the Moon.
It has been a year since the first direct image of the black hole was captured by the same Event Horizon Telescope team. Scientists rejoice at the accomplishment as last year, and they were only able to produce a shadow of the black hole.
Input collected from the different EHT sites around the world is transferred to supercomputers, where they are blended together to generate what we see now. The data is then scaled down and evaluated by experts, which allow EHT scientists to provide us with the best quality of images from the surface of the Earth.