Two years ago a black hole headlined the first images of the event horizon. A follow-up study of a small, but near, supermassive black hole in the center of Centaurus explored the giant planes that make it into the noisy objects in the sky at galaxy radio frequencies. In the process, researchers have shed light on these immense issues, but have rarely understood the phenomenon. Even at visible wavelengths, one of the brightest galaxies at Centaurus is seen with the naked eye with some exceptional vision. However, its original claim to fame began in 1949, when early radio telescopes revealed it as a powerful radio wave source, later proving to be true on the other end of the power spectrum as well.
These emissions are the result of huge jets split by highly active supermassive black holes in the heart of Centaurus A. Dr Philip Edwards of CSIRO, Australia, told IFLScience: Its jets spread across eight degrees of the sky (16 times the full moon). The Centaurus A both looks so big because it’s relatively close – about 14 million light-years from Earth – and because it’s really huge. In about two million light-years, its lobes (as jets spread as it became known) would extend to our own Milky Way in Andromeda.
Its southern sky position hinders this truly detailed observation of Leviathan. However, observing the silhouettes and relatively modest objects of the largest known black holes located at the center of our largest galaxy, the Event Horizon Telescope team wanted something in between. The black hole at the center of the galaxy, Verzo A, M6, has about 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun, while the Milky Way’s black hole Sagittarius A has about 4 million solar masses. Its jets at Centaurus are powered by a 55 million solar mass black hole.
Radboud University Nijmegen student Michael Janssen said in a statement, “We are very close and personally watching how a giant jet initiated by an epidemic black hole is being born.”