Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Astronomers snap first direct image of a black hole launching a jet of energy

Published Apr 27th, 2023 4:19PM EDT
Artist’s impression of black hole in the M87 galaxy
Image: S. Dagnello (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

Astronomers working with the European Southern Observatory have managed to capture the first direct image of a black hole spewing out a jet of energy. The ESO shared the news in a late April post detailing the image and how it was captured.

According to the news release, the observations were originally captured in 2018 using data from three telescopes — Global Millimetre VLBI Array (GMVA), the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and the Greenland Telescope (GLT).

We’ve known that black holes expel jets of energy for a while now, but we’ve never managed to capture a direct image of one. The ESO says that this new image will allow astronomers to better understand how black holes launch these massive, energetic jets out into space.

direct image of black hole with jet shooting out of it
From ESO: This image shows the jet and shadow of the black hole at the centre of the M87 galaxy together for the first time. Image source: R.-S. Lu (SHAO), E. Ros (MPIfR), S. Dagnello (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

More importantly, this new image shows exactly how the base of the jet of energy connects with the matter that swirls around a supermassive black hole. The black hole imaged in the observations is the supermassive black hole found at the center of Messier 87 (M87).

This black hole was also the first black hole that astronomers directly imaged four years ago using the Event Horizon Telescope. By looking further at the black hole, though, astronomers were able to capture the jet rushing from it, too.

This is, of course, no small feat, and even as we look back on how far we’ve come with our observations of black holes, capturing a direct image of a jet being expelled from a black hole is exciting, and hopefully means we can expect more in-depth images of black holes in the future.

For now, hopefully astronomers can learn something from the observations made by these three telescopes, especially as NASA and other space agencies continue to work on new telescopes to help study our universe more deeply than ever before.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.