A little while ago we received the first image of a black hole and the picture became famous instantly. However, not many people know about Messier 87 (M87), the galaxy in which the black hole is located. Back on April 10 the Event Horizon Telescope revealed the first picture of the black hole’s horizon.
We can also take a look at the M87 galaxy in infrared light. The M87 galaxy is located 55 million light years from Earth and it has been studied for more than 100 years.
The mysterious ray
Back in 1918 a mysterious ray emerging from the center of the galaxy was observed by astronomer Heber Curtis. The ray can be seen in various wavelengths of light. A shockwave is created when the jet particles affect the interstellar medium.
“We think the spin of the black hole interacting with the magnetic field is what causes the jets, but we don’t have proof,” Feryal Özel, University of Arizona astrophysicist and EHT team member explained. “If we see jet-like images or anything associated with it, I think it increases our confidence that jets are formed very close to the black hole.”
The latest EHT image allows us to take a better look at M87. “So it’s a dark region surrounded by a sliver of light, like a moon crescent. One side is approaching; one is receding. So the approaching side is bright,” explained astronomer Avi Loeb.
Swallowing a galaxy
M87 managed to swallow a galaxy. This was revealed by observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope. “A medium-sized galaxy fell through the center of M87, and as a consequence of the enormous gravitational tidal forces, its stars are now scattered over a region that is 100 times larger than the original galaxy!” explained back then Ortwin Gerhard, head of the dynamics group at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.