Mini-Jet Found Near Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole

Hubble has found circumstantial evidence that the black hole is still smoldering long after the earlier outburst. Hubble astronomers' evidence is like doing an archeological dig to try and peer through the interstellar pollution of dense sheets of dust and gas between Earth and the galactic center, 27,000 light-years away. Hubble photographed a bright knot of gas that has been impacted by an invisible jet from the black hole, that is merely 15 light-years from it. The black hole must have shown brilliantly billions of years ago as a quasar (quasi-stellar object), when our young galaxy was feeding on lots of infalling gas. But after all this time the black hole still goes through fits and starts, and is not ready for napping as long as there is a snack around.

This image presents a composite view of X-rays, molecular gas, and warm ionized gas near the galactic center. The graphic of a translucent, vertical white fan is added to show the suggested axis of a mini-jet from the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s heart. The orange-colored features are of glowing hydrogen gas. One such feature, at the top tip of the jet is interpreted as a hydrogen cloud that has been hit by the outflowing jet. The jet scatters off the cloud into tendrils that flow northward. Farther down near the black hole are X-ray observations of superheated gas colored blue and molecular gas in green. These data are evidence that the black hole occasionally accretes stars or gas clouds, and ejects some of the superheated material along its spin axis.

Credit:

NASA, ESA, Gerald Cecil (UNC-Chapel Hill), J. DePasquale (STScI)

About the Image

NASA press release
Id:opo2162a
Release date:9 December 2021, 19:00
Size:2678 x 3310 px

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