Galaxy M87: Incredible HD image of a supermassive black hole reveals intense magnetic fields

The supermassive black hole M87 * is at the center of the oversized elliptical galaxy Messier 87, which is more than 53 million light years from Earth. It is the first black hole to be imaged using VLBI interferometry.

Thanks to the data obtained with this technique, physicists were able to create an image of the magnetic structure of the object. Before we proceed, it should be noted that the data that made it possible to develop this largely realistic rendering came from the Event Horizon (EHT) terrestrial radio telescope network.

A black hole, 6.5 billion times as massive as our sun

As Physicsworld explains, the magnetic structure was mapped by measuring the polarization of the light emitted by matter in the hot area around M87 *. In 2019, the EHT talked a lot by taking the first picture of the shadow of a black hole.

The black hole in question is located in the center of the supergiant galaxy M87. Thanks to this picture, the researchers were able to estimate the mass of the cosmic monster: about 6.5 billion times that of our sun! Indeed, the region around the shadow of a black hole is both hot and violent. Intense light is created when matter is accelerated.

Powerful jets

A few years earlier, in 2012, astronomers – again thanks to Event Horizon – had discovered a giant jet that came from M87 *. The explosion was so massive that the beam traveled nearly 5,000 light years.

Realistic representations come from the terrestrial radio telescope network Event Horizon (EHT). Credit: EHT COLLABORATION

To understand the phenomenon, the researchers analyzed the polarization of the light of the region of light that surrounds the shadow of the black hole. Although the technique of interferometric imaging has observed that some of the material is sucked into the black hole while others are projected as nozzles, researchers still do not know the real cause of the magnetized gas ejection.

A creation that takes a lot of work

Understanding the magnetic properties of M87 * could therefore help answer this question. For this reason, Iván Martí-Vidal from the University of València created the picture, although it took a lot of effort.

“This new polarized light image took years of work because of the complex techniques used to obtain and analyze the data,” said the astronomer. Note that two articles devoted to this research were published online in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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