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Scientists capture first-ever image of a black hole unleashing a powerful jet into the universe!

TCredit: R.-S. Lu (SHAO), E. Ros (MPIfR), S. Dagnello (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

European Southern Observatory just released a mind-blowing finding: Astronomers have just released an image that shows, for the first time, both the shadow of a black hole and the powerful jet expelled from it. 

The image was taken in 2018 by a group of radio telescopes working together as a virtual Earth-sized telescope. The telescopes are part of the Global Millimetre VLBI Array (GMVA), the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and the Greenland Telescope (GLT), of which the European Southern Observatory is a partner. The black hole is located in the galaxy Messier 87, which is 55 million light-years away and has a black hole that is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun. 

Black holes are known for their ability to engulf matter in their vicinity, but they can also create powerful jets of matter that extend beyond the galaxies they live in. The new image provides a better understanding of how black holes launch such energetic jets. Scientists have long studied the origin of the jet, which surrounds black holes, but it has remained a mystery. 

The new image shows how the base of the jet connects with the matter swirling around the black hole, which will help scientists understand how black holes create such enormous jets. By using a network of radio-telescopes around the globe, the image shows the jet emerging from the ring of emission around the central supermassive black hole. The darkness at the centre of the ring is the black hole shadow, which was first imaged by the Event Horizon Telescope in 2017. 

The GMVA network observed the black hole and jet in 2018, and the addition of the ALMA and GLT telescopes helped to capture the image. Future observations with this network of telescopes will continue to unravel how supermassive black holes can launch powerful jets, allowing scientists to learn more about one of the most mysterious regions in the universe.

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