HEA Research: Supermassive Black Holes

At the very centers of all large galaxies there lies a supermassive black hole, a million to a billion times the mass of our Sun. 90% of the time these supermassive black holes are quiet - emitting almost no light from their close environs. But 10% of the time gas falling down onto them heats up to extreme temperatures and emits light from X-rays to the infrared, and 1% of the time some still mysterious process ejects narrow jets of hot gas moving very close to the speed of light and emitting strongly in radio waves.
HEA scientists study supermassive black holes in all these states, trying to understand how they work.

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Martin Elvis, Pepi Fabbiano, Paul Green, Dan Harris, Aneta Siemiginowska, Belinda Wilkes, Dan Evans


Caption: Chandra X-ray observatory image of a jet a million light-years long emitted from close to a supermassive black hole. Yet this black hole has radio emission that is far younger than a million years. Apparently these 'relativistic' jets turn on and off repeatedly over cosmic history, but we do not yet know what the 'switch' is that makes them shine at some times and not others. For more information


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