Scientists Closer to Uncovering Universe's Most Energetic Objects
english.jpnn.com, WASHINGTON - Researchers found a doughnut-shaped cloud of cosmic dust and gas shrouding a massive black hole at the heart of a galaxy similar in size to our Milky Way.
These observations give scientists new clarity about the most energetic objects in the universe.
Scientists on Wednesday said their observations involving the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy Messier 77 and the clouds around it support predictions made three decades ago about so-called "active galactic nuclei".
It is a place found at the center of many large galaxies with extraordinary luminosity - sometimes brighter than all the billions of galactic stars combined - and producing the most energetic explosions in the universe since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.
Energy arises from gas falling violently into a supermassive black hole surrounded by a cloud of tiny particles of rock and soot along with mostly hydrogen gas.
Black holes are extraordinarily dense objects that have a gravitational pull so strong that even light cannot escape. The supermassive black hole, which is at the center of many galaxies, including our own, is the largest.
Messier 77, also called NGC 1068 or the Squid Galaxy, lies 47 million light years — the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km) — from Earth in the constellation Cetus. Its supermassive black hole has a mass about 10 million times greater than our sun.
The observations, using the Southern European Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile's Atacama Desert, provide strong support for the so-called "unified model" of active galactic nuclei.
Observations give scientists new clarity about the most energetic objects in the universe.
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