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CfA Press Release
 


Credit for upper panel image: Space Telescope Science Institute and NASA

In blue, the X-ray light coming from the central supermassive black hole in theIn blue, the X-ray light coming from the central supermassive black hole in thecore of the galaxy M87. The X-ray light peaks at the position of the black hole. A NASAcore of the galaxy M87. The X-ray light peaks at the position of the black hole. A NASAHubble Space Telescope image of the galaxy has previously revealed a disk of rapidly rotating, hot gas with a central black hole at its hub.Hubble Space Telescope image of the galaxy has previously revealed a disk of rapidly rotating, hot gas with a central black hole at its hub.

A black hole is an object that is so massive and compact that nothing canA black hole is an object that is so massive and compact that nothing canescape its gravitational pull -- not even light. The black hole at theescape its gravitational pull -- not even light. The black hole at thecenter of M87 weighs more than a billion Suns, yet it is concentrated into a region no larger than ourcenter of M87 weighs more than a billion Suns, yet it is concentrated into a region no larger than ourSolar System. Solar System.

M87 is located 50 million light-years awayM87 is located 50 million light-years awayin the constellation Virgo and is one of the six giant elliptical galaxies forin the constellation Virgo and is one of the six giant elliptical galaxies forwhich a unique type of very energetic X-ray light has been detected. The luminosity, though, is much lower than expected from standard black hole theory. A brilliant jet ofwhich a unique type of very energetic X-ray light has been detected. The luminosity, though, is much lower than expected from standard black hole theory. A brilliant jet ofhigh- speed electrons that emits from the nucleus (diagonal featurehigh- speed electrons that emits from the nucleus (diagonal featureacross upper image) is believed to be produced by the black hole "engine."across upper image) is believed to be produced by the black hole "engine."The brightest spot in this jet is also emitting X-ray light. The brightest spot in this jet is also emitting X-ray light.

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