Photo of supermassive black hole confirms that ‘small’ black holes work the same as large ones

Sensational radio images of jets pouring out of a supermassive black hole have helped astronomers confirm that “small” black holes behave similarly to the largest.

The Event Horizon Telescope, a global network of radio telescopes, captured details of the giant black hole at the heart of the nearby radio galaxy Centaurus A.

The same team was the first to directly image a black hole when they photographed the massive stellar phenomenon Messier 87 in 2019.

The team, including astronomers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany, aimed radio telescopes at the huge plasma beams emanating from the center of galaxy Centaurus A, located about 13 million light-years from Earth.

The data shows that the jet launched through the back hole is brighter at the edges than in the center, something seen in other black hole jets, but never as pronounced.

They say the new images and data collected will enable future, direct, high-resolution imaging of the black hole itself, using future space telescopes.

The authors also found that their observations match what would be expected from Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity and suggest that the largest supermassive black holes are “scaled up versions” of smaller black holes.

The study authors compared the jets from the black hole in Centaurus A with those from the much larger black hole of M87 and found that they behaved in a similar way.

CENTAUR A: RADIO GALAXY 13 MILLION LIGHT YEARS GONE

The radio galaxy Centaurus A is located 13 million light-years from Earth.

It is located in the constellation Centaurus and is visible only from the Southern Hemisphere and the low latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

It was first discovered in 1826 by Australian-based Scottish astronomer James Dunlop.

The Milky Way is one of the closest radio galaxies to Earth, and so its active galactic core has been widely studied in various resolutions.

There is debate as to whether it is a lenticular or a giant elliptical galaxy.

At the center of Centaurus A is a black hole with the mass of 55 million suns, exactly between the mass of the Messier 87 black hole at six and a half billion suns, and Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the heart of the Milky Way About 4 million suns.

The supermassive black hole at the center has been studied extensively, in part because of the relativistic beam emitted and visible in X-ray and radio wavelengths.

Compared to all previous high-resolution observations, they have now captured the jet with a ten times higher frequency and 16 times sharper resolution.

The telescope’s “dissolving power” is so high that they can pinpoint the origin of the jet at the center of the black hole itself.

A magnification factor of a billion.

Supermassive black holes located at the center of galaxies such as Centaurus A feed on gas and dust that are attracted by their enormous gravitational pull.

This process releases enormous amounts of energy and the galaxy would become ‘active’. Most of the matter close to the edge of the black hole falls into it.

However, some surrounding particles escape for a few moments before being captured and are blown far into space at speeds approaching the speed of light.

These jets, one of the most mysterious and energetic features of galaxies, are born from these escaping particles.

Astronomers have relied on several models of how matter behaves near the black hole to better understand this process.

They don’t know exactly how jets are launched from the central region of a galaxy or how they extend over scales larger than their host galaxies without scattering.

The EHT aims to solve this mystery and learn more about black holes, as well as why the edges of the jets appear brighter than the central regions.

“Now we can rule out theoretical jet models that cannot reproduce this edge brightening,” said Matthias Kadler of the University of Würzburg in Germany.

The jets emanating from Centaurus A are so large that when viewed from a radio telescope, they cover an area of ​​the sky the size of the moon

The jets emanating from Centaurus A are so large that when viewed from a radio telescope, they cover an area of ​​the sky the size of the moon

By studying Centaurus A's jet, the team was able to predict exactly where the black hole will be, which can be used by space observatories to directly image the phenomenon.

By studying Centaurus A’s jet, the team was able to predict exactly where the black hole will be, which can be used by space observatories to directly image the phenomenon.

KEY FINDINGS: LARGE BLACK HOLES WEAR SIMILAR TO SMALL BLACK HOLES

High-resolution radio observations of a plasma beam emitted from a supermassive black hole are consistent with the predictions expected from Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

They made this discovery to a scale of less than a light day.

These findings suggest that black holes behave similarly over a wide range of masses.

Astronomers pointed their radio telescopes at Centaurus A, the closest active galaxy to Earth with a strong plasma beam.

The first direct image of a black hole was at the center of M87, with a mass more than 6 billion times the Sun.

Galaxy Centaurus A is less massive than M87 and its supermassive black hole accumulates only a fraction of the material like that in M87.

Centaurus A bridges the gap between the colossal black hole in M87 and that in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Peering down to 0.6 light days from the black hole, the authors found that the jet looks like a hollow bi-cone with bright edges.

They noted that the jet’s overall geometry and properties bear a striking resemblance to those of the jet in M87, as well as to jets launched from smaller black holes.

This finding supports the idea that massive black holes are scaled-up versions of their lighter counterparts.

“It’s a striking feature that will help us better understand jets produced by black holes,” explains the TANAMI leader and professor of astrophysics.

With the new EHT observations from the Centaurus A fighter jet, the likely location of the black hole has been determined at the jet’s launch point.

Based on this location, the researchers predict that future observations could photograph Centaurus A’s central black hole with an even shorter wavelength and higher resolution.

This requires the use of space-based satellite observatories, as data from Earth telescopes does not have sufficient resolution.

‘The new results show that the EHT offers a wealth of data about the rich diversity of black holes and that there is still more to come’, says Heino Falcke, EHT board member and professor of Astrophysics at Radboud University.

To observe the Centaurus A galaxy, the EHT collaboration used Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), the technique used to image the black hole in M87.

An alliance of eight telescopes around the world have teamed up to create the virtual Event Horizon telescope on Earth. The EHT collaboration involves more than 300 researchers from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America.

The first image of a black hole – the orange ‘donut’ – in the supergiant elliptical galaxy M87, captured by the Event Horizon Telescope in 2019, revealed remarkable consistency with predictions based on Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

It remains unclear whether matter near a less massive black hole or a black hole that accumulates matter less vigorously behaves differently than in M87.

Michael Janssen and colleagues aimed their radio telescopes at Centaurus A, the closest active galaxy to Earth with a strong plasma beam.

This galaxy is less massive than M87 and its supermassive black hole collects only a fraction of the material like that in M87.

Peering down to 0.6 light days from the black hole, the authors found that the jet looks like a hollow bi-cone with bright edges.

They noted that the general geometry and properties of the jet bear a striking resemblance to those of the jet in M87, as well as to jets launched from stellar-mass black holes.

This finding supports the idea that massive black holes are scaled-up versions of their lighter counterparts.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Astornomy.

HOW DOES THE EVENT HORIZON TELESCOPE WORK?

Using a ‘virtual telescope’ built eight radio observatories placed at different points on the globe, the team behind the Event Horizon Telescope has spent the past few years investigating Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the heart. from the Milky Way, and another target in the Virgo galaxy cluster.

The observations are based on a network of widely spaced radio antennas.

These are all over the world – in the South Pole, Hawaii, Europe and America.

These radios mimic the opening of a telescope that can produce the resolution needed to capture Sagittarius A.

At each of the radio stations, there are large hard drives on which the data is stored.

These hard drives are then processed at the MIT Haystack Observatory just outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

The effort is essentially focused on capturing a silhouette of a black hole, also known as the black hole’s shadow.

This would be “dark shape on a bright background of light coming from the surrounding matter, distorted by a strong space-time curvature,” the ETH team explains.

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