Gigantic black hole jet measuring millions of light-years across spotted by astronomers

Astronomers, observing a nearby galaxy with a powerful telescope, have detected one of the largest jets of black holes ever created. The million-light-year-sized jet from tip to tip is not only huge, but estimated to be 50 times larger than the galaxy. The neighboring galaxy, NGC2663, is located in our vicinity and only 93 million light-years from us. Similar black hole jets have been seen earlier, but the newly discovered jet’s gigantic size and proximity to the galaxy make it a unique find.

Astronomers at University of Western Sydney observed it through an ordinary telescope and saw the oval shape of a typical elliptical galaxy. However, they discovered something extraordinary while observing the galaxy with a super-telescope named Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) operated by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).

By analyzing radio waves recorded by the telescope, astronomers detected a jet of material ejected out of the galaxy by a central black hole. It turned out to be 50 times larger than the galaxy, and if it could be seen with the naked eye, it would appear larger than the Moon in the night sky. In the Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU) survey, astronomers noted that matter between galaxies was pushing out the sides of the jet. This turned out to be similar to an effect in jets.

As the exhaust plume passes through the atmosphere, ambient pressure pushes it from side to side. This, in turn, causes the jet to expand and contract, causing it to pulsate as it travels. The pulsation appears as regular bright spots that astronomers have called “shock diamonds.”

Such shock diamonds have been seen in smaller, galaxy-sized jets before, but this was the first time astronomers had observed the jets being side-tight on a large scale.

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