May 19, 2024

Supermassive black hole found spitting a giant, high-energy jet toward Earth

A NASA mission has observed a supermassive black hole pointing its highly energetic jet straight toward Earth. Don’t panic just yet, though. As fearsome as this cosmic event  is, it’s located at a very safe distance of about 400 million light-years away.

Actively feeding supermassive black holes, including the one at hand, are surrounded by swirling disks of matter called accretion disks which gradually feed them over time. Some of the material they don’t swallow is then channeled toward their poles, where it’s subsequently blasted out at near-light,  or relativistic,  speed. This creates highly energetic and extremely bright electromagnetic radiation. In some cases, like with NASA’s latest muse, that jet is pointed straight at Earth. Those events are known as blazars.

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