Seeing into the heart of a faraway galaxy could explain how jets of hot material get their start
Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI), NASA, ESA
Astronomers have caught their best look ever at blobs of hot gas fleeing a supermassive black hole, thanks to a new kind of cosmic magnifying glass.
Anthony Readhead of the Owens Valley Radio Observatory at Caltech and colleagues caught two small, hot bursts traveling away from a bright galaxy called J1415+1320 at near the speed of light. Although the galaxy is billions of light-years away and the blobs are tiny compared with the galaxy, it appears that a lucky alignment of stars may have created what’s called a gravitational lens, magnifying the galaxy and its environs.
“We’re peering right down into the core of the nucleus of this active galaxy,” Readhead says. “We think this is potentially a very powerful new window.” The researchers report their findings August 20 in two papers in the