A new image of a black hole reveals its ‘most mysterious’ feature

Astronomers have released the most detailed image of a black hole to date, one that has revealed its “most mysterious” feature: bright jets of energy that erupt for thousands of light-years.

A new image from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration used polarized light – filtering it, similar to polarized sunglasses – to show the area around the black hole. And that in turn provided the sharpest view of those energy jets.

“Most of the matter lying near the edge of the black hole falls in,” the news release said. “However, some surrounding particles escape a few moments before capture and are blown into space in the form of jets.”

This leads to jets of energy and matter extending about 5,000 light-years from the center, as shown in the new image, the first ever detailed view of the region just outside the black hole:

EHT cooperation

Janna Levin, an astrophysicist and professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College at Columbia University, who is not part of the EHT team, told the New York Times that the jets in the new image are basically “a deadly, powerful, astronomical air rifle that stretches thousands of light years. ”

“Newly released polarized images are key to understanding how a magnetic field allows a black hole to” eat “matter and power powerful jets,” said EHT associate member Andrew Chael, a NASA Hubble associate at Princeton’s Theoretical Center. science. news.

Launched in 2009, the EHT collaboration is a multinational effort involving about 300 scientists using a network of radio telescopes around the world to study black holes. Two years ago, the collaboration released the first image of a black hole, a fuzzy ring that captured the public’s imagination.

The new polarized image offers an even clearer view of the object at the center of the galaxy Messier 87 or M87, about 55 million light-years away, and in the constellation Virgo seen from Earth:

The next step can be more than a picture.

“Even now, we are designing a next-generation EHT that will allow us to make the first films about the black hole,” Sheperd Doeleman, director of the founder of EHT Collaboration, said in a news release. “Follow us for a true black hole cinema.”