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The ghost of an angry black hole still haunts this galaxy

3 Sep 2020, 13:00 UTC
The ghost of an angry black hole still haunts this galaxy
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Some galaxies we see are what we call active: They blast out huge amounts of radiation from their centers, sometimes enough energy to outshine the rest of the galaxy combined. We know this is due to a supermassive black hole in their cores gobbling down matter. The matter forms a disk around it, gets very very hot, and shines exceedingly brightly.

Sometimes, the rotation of that disk (plus, it's now thought, the rotation of the black hole itself) can wind up the magnetic fields in the disk, causing them to form twin vortices, like tornadoes pointing up and down, away from the disk. Matter then gets brutally accelerated along those directions, screaming away in twin beams at very nearly the speed of light. We call those features jets.

That matter decelerates as it plows through the thin material in between galaxies, eventually slowing suddenly and puffing out, forming huge lobes that look like Q-tips… cotton swabs hundreds of thousands of light years across, that is. The jets can extend for millions of light years!

But they don't always do this. Low-resolution images made by radio telescopes of the galaxy PGC 064440 showed it to have a weird X-shaped structure, like ...

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