This illustration shows the extreme activity astronomers believe occurs near a supermassive black hole. Matter that is spiraling inward forms a disk swirling around the black hole, and high speed jets of energetic particles are ejected from the poles. The detail shows a computer simulation of the inner region where matter orbits just outside the black hole. The rotation of the disk surrounding the black hole causes one side to brighten. The size of this bright spot in the rotating disk is close to the size measured with the new observations.
Credit: MIT/NASA/JohnsHopkins/U.Illinois High Resolution Image (jpg) Low Resolution Image (jpg)