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ACtion at the Heart of a Black hole

20 Apr 2020, 16:42 UTC
ACtion at the Heart of a Black hole
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Remember the big black hole announcement last year about this time? A group called the “Event Horizon Consortium” (EHC) announced the first-ever “picture” of a black hole at the heart of the distant galaxy M87. It was made by linking up the highest-powered radio telescopes around the world. They focused on the galaxy and provided incredibly high-resolution information about the region at the event horizon.

Now, astronomers are talking about black hole activity at the heart of another object, called 3C 279. It’s a powerful quasar at the core of a distant galaxy, some five billion light-years away. The radio signals and light that we see from it today show it as it looked before our Sun and planets had even begun to form.

An artist’s concept of what quasar 3C 279 and its galaxy might look like. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser.

Quasars are galaxies in the distant (and younger) universe with energetic activities at their hearts. In visible light, they are incredibly bright, but they also radiate in many other forms of light. What is happening inside these galaxies? Astronomers long searched for ways to explain these incredibly bright objects.

I remember one researcher musing about the engines ...

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