Perseus Black Hole
Photograph courtesy NASA/CXC/IoA/A. Fabian et al.
A view of the central region of the Perseus galaxy cluster, one of the most massive objects in the universe, shows the effects that a relatively small but supermassive black hole can have millions of miles beyond its core. Astronomers studying this photo, taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, determined that sound waves emitted by explosive venting around the black hole are heating the surrounding area and inhibiting star growth some 300,000 light-years away. "In relative terms, it is as if a heat source the size of a fingernail affects the behavior of a region the size of Earth," said Andrew Fabian of Cambridge University.
Black Hole Wind
Photograph courtesy NASA/CXC/MIT/UCSB/P. Ogle et al./STScI/A. Capetti et al.
A composite x-ray/optical image of the active NGC 1068 galaxy reveals an enormous plume of hot gas emanating from the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center. Scientists think the shape and speed of the plume, which moves at about 1 million miles an hour (1.6 million kilometers an hour), are caused by the funneling effect of a doughnut-shaped ring of cooler gas and dust that surrounds the black hole.
Photograph courtesy NASA/CXC/OCIW/P. Martini et al.
In 2000, astronomers studying the A2104 galaxy cluster (in blue) discovered powerful x-rays emanating from several black holes in regions previously thought too old and devoid of gas to create such radiation. They had expected to find perhaps one such x-ray source in the area, but instead found six. The discovery, made using the Chandra X-ray Observatory, changed many of the assumptions scientists had made about the life cycles of galaxies and black holes.
Intermediate-Mass Black Hole
Photograph courtesy NASA/CXC/U. of Michigan/J. Liu et al./ NOAO/AURA/NSF/T. Boroson
Astronomers think the object shown in this Chandra X-ray Observatory image (in box) may be an elusive intermediate-mass black hole. Located about 32 million light-years from Earth in the Messier 74 galaxy (M74), this object emits periodic bursts of x-rays at a rate that suggests it is much larger than a stellar-mass black hole but significantly smaller than the supermassive black holes found at the centers of galaxies. Few such middling black holes have been discovered, and scientists aren't sure how they form.
Illustration courtesy NASA/CXC/M. Weiss
An artist's rendering, made using data collected by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, shows a quasar galaxy with a jet of high-energy particles extending more than 100,000 light-years from the supermassive black hole at its center. The object, located 12 billion light-years from Earth, is the most distant such jet ever detected. These quasar jets are formed when electrons emitted from a black hole impact with cosmic background radiation left by the big bang, giving astronomers clues about the conditions in the early universe.
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