Composite image of the Abell 2597 galaxy cluster showing the fountain-like flow of gas powered by the supermassive black hole in the central galaxy. Image via NRAO.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) released this new image on November 6, 2018. It’s a composite image of a giant elliptical galaxy – surrounded by a sprawling cluster of other galaxies – known as Abell 2597. The yellow parts of the image come from observations made by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and show a relatively cold gas. The red is data from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) showing hot hydrogen gas in the same region. The purple shows extended hot, ionized gas as imaged by Chandra X-ray Observatory.
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This vast structure is a billion light-years from Earth. It’s one of our universe’s most massive structures. At the core of Abell 2597, NRAO said:
… a supermassive black hole is powering the cosmic equivalent of a monumental fountain, drawing in vast stores of cold molecular gas and spraying them back out again in an ongoing cycle.
Astronomers have long theorized that fountains such as this ...