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Scientists visualize a black hole plasma jet in unprecedented detail

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When a supermassive black hole features such jets, it’s classified as a blazar. Astronomers posit that the magnetic poles of the black hole channel the energy up from the accretion disc and shoot it out with a tremendous amount of energy — the jet captured in the image is traveling at about 0.995 times the…

When a supermassive black hole features such jets, it’s classified as a blazar. Astronomers posit that the magnetic poles of the black hole channel the energy up from the accretion disc and shoot it out with a tremendous amount of energy — the jet captured in the image is traveling at about 0.995 times the speed of light. Strangely, the jet in question seems to be shooting out from the black hole at an odd angle. This has been confirmed by Dr. Ziri Younsi of University College London, who is a co-author of the paper that featured the image. According to The Guardian, he says that this may indicate a “kink” at the base of the jet, or that energy is somehow winding itself around the jet.

This image will hopefully help astronomers answer some compelling questions, like how matter and energy are transported from the accretion disc to the poles of a black hole, or why our own supermassive black hole — which is 200 times smaller than the one in the image — does not shoot out jets of energy.

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