Astronomers using the Event Horizon Telescope have imaged a quasar at the heart of a distant galaxy spewing massive amounts of radiation powered by a supermassive black hole.
These extremely powerful events are often described as the central drivers of active galaxies and can emit more light than others a star in their home galaxy sum. However, scientists still don’t fully understand the physics that drive their powerful activity.
This newly illustrated quasar Lurks in the heart of the galaxy NRAO 530 and has been captured by Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), famous for producing the The first image of a black hole In 2019. The EHT Collaboration team followed up on this photo of the massive one Black hole In the heart of the galaxy Messier 87 (M87) with extension Arch image A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive black hole of the Milky Way, in May 2022.
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However, the recently published observation is special because it was made in April 2017, before the EHT saw either M87’s black hole or Sgr A*as the space telescope has been calibrating NRAO 530 in preparation for spotting the black hole at the heart of our galaxy.
“It is also the most distant object imaged with the EHT so far,” said EHT Collaboration Team Member and Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy researcher Masek Wilgus. statement (Opens in a new tab). “The light we see has traveled toward Earth for 7.5 billion years through the expanding universe, but at the power of EHT we see details of the source’s structure on a scale as small as one light-year.”
How black holes light their homes in the galaxy
Black holes themselves do not emit light but actually capture light behind a one-way surface called a event horizonso it may seem strange that they could trigger such a luminous phenomenon.
Quasars are powerful sources of radiation due to the strong gravitational influence of their central black holes, which can be millions or even billions of times more massive than black holes. sun, accelerates materials to a speed close to light and heats them. This causes quasars to brighten violently, but this is not the only source of radiation from quasars.
These black holes greedily feed on the material that surrounds them, but not all of that material makes it past the event horizon. The quasars’ magnetic fields also guide particles to the poles of the supermassive black hole’s components. Here the particles are collimated in bright, thin jets that explode at nearly the speed of light. These jets of quasars can extend into the hundreds of thousands light years. How the magnetic fields of quasars form these jets is shrouded in mystery.
The quasar at the core of NRAO 530 is also classified as a Blazarwhich is a type of quasar oriented in such a way that the jets that explode from it are directed directly at the Earth.
The EHT viewed this quasar in both polarized and unpolarized light, allowing the researchers to investigate the structure of the magnetic field near the black hole and the innermost part of the jet. This revealed a bright feature located at the southern tip of the jet associated with the nucleus from which the jet starts.
This core contains a sub-structure that can only be deconvoluted and resolved at short wavelengths, the brightness of which indicates that the jet’s energy is dominated by a magnetic field.
The aircraft also has two features that are oriented at right angles and parallel to the aircraft itself. This indicated to the team that the plane’s magnetic field has a spiral structure.
“The external feature has a high degree of linear polarization, which is suggestive of a well-ordered magnetic field,” Svetlana Jorstad, a member of the EHT collaboration and senior scientist at Boston University, said in the release.
The EHT collaboration will continue to study the quasar so they can better understand how the properties of the innermost jet change and correlate with the production of high-energy photons over time.
The research is documented in a research paper published in Astrophysical Journal. (Opens in a new tab)
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