Two years after the first-ever image of a black hole was produced, an international team of scientists have released an updated view of the magnetic fields surrounding it, saying that the groundbreaking new development allows us to understand the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy’s ability to “launch energetic jets from its core.”
In a press release, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) said that over 300 researchers collaborated on the project and the findings were published Wednesday in two separate papers in The Astrophysical Journal.
In April 2019, scientists from EHT captured the world’s attention by releasing an image of the supermassive black hole lying at the center of M87, which is located 55 million light-years away from Earth.
The striking image showed a dark central region outlined by a ring-like structure, which scientists described at the time as “emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon.” In the new image captured through polarized light, brightly colored streaks of light can be seen corresponding with its magnetic field.
“We are now seeing the next crucial piece of evidence to understand how magnetic fields behave around black holes, and how activity in this very compact region of space can drive powerful jets that extend far beyond the galaxy,” said Monika Mościbrodzka, coordinator of the EHT Polarimetry Working Group and a professor at Radboud Universiteit in the Netherlands.
The new observations, which are based on data collected by EHT researchers, should provide crucial insights on how a galaxy can project streams of energy thousands of light-years outward from its core.
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