Galaxy, jet and black hole M87 in three frames

At the center of the bright elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87) is a supermassive black hole. The image of this black hole was taken in 2017 by the Event Horizon Telescope. This was the first recorded image of a black hole.

What do we see in today’s NASA image?

The large galaxy M87 is located in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster at a distance of about 55 million light years from us. In this image taken by the Spitzer Space telescope in the infrared spectrum, M87 is seen in blue.

Spitzer’s image of M87 is fuzzy and cloud-like, but it does show details of relativistic jets emanating from the galaxy’s center. The small frame on the upper right of the image shows these jets, which are thousands of light-years across. The brighter jet seen to the right is in our line of sight and approaching. The jet in front of it is receding and therefore less luminous.

In the lower small frame, the same history-making black hole located at the center of the galaxy and relativistic jets can be seen. This supermassive black hole, encased in infalling material, is the source of the enormous energy of the relativistic jets that emanate from the center of the active galaxy M87. The Event Horizon Telescope image of M87 is now improved and shows a clearer view of the famous supermassive black hole.

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