M87 is a large elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo, located about 55 million light-years away from Earth.
Table of Contents
This galaxy has been a subject of scientific fascination for decades since it contains a supermassive black hole (SMBH) in its nucleus that is about 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun. In April 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration released the first-ever image of the M87 black hole’s shadow. Now, the EHT collaboration has released a new study that sheds further light on the black hole’s surroundings and its connection to the galaxy’s jet.
There are 6 Billion Earth-Like Planets in the Milky Way Galaxy Alone, Astronomers Find
Astronomers Capture A Cosmic Hand Hitting a Wall at the Speed of 9 Million MPH
Earth has unexpectedly started spinning faster now than it was 50 years ago, scientists warn
The Event Horizon Telescope
The Event Horizon Telescope is a global network of telescopes, including observatories in Hawaii, Arizona, Spain, Chile, Mexico, and the South Pole. The EHT collaboration uses a technique called very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) to combine the data from these telescopes, effectively creating a virtual telescope the size of the Earth. Using this technique, the EHT collaboration was able to capture the first-ever image of a black hole in M87’s nucleus in 2019.
Accretion Disk around the Black Hole
The new study shows the presence of a ring-like accretion disk surrounding the black hole in M87’s nucleus. Accretion disks are the rotating disks of gas and dust that surround black holes, providing the material for the black hole to feed on. The EHT collaboration observed that the ring-like structure in M87 is around 0.4 light-years in size, with the black hole located at its center.
The Connection to the Jet
M87 also contains a powerful jet of high-energy particles that extends far beyond the galaxy’s boundaries. The EHT collaboration observed that the ring-like structure around the black hole in M87’s nucleus is connected to the jet, indicating that the black hole’s activity is responsible for the jet’s formation. While the exact mechanisms for how these connections are formed are still unclear, this discovery provides new insights into how black holes can impact their surrounding environments.
Implications for Black Hole Research
This study has major implications for black hole research since it provides new information about the relationship between black holes and their environments. Studying the accretion processes around black holes and the resulting jets can give us a better understanding of galaxy formation and evolution, as well as the origins of high-energy cosmic rays. It can also help us test Einstein’s theory of general relativity and other theories of gravity.
Future Research Directions
Future research into M87 will no doubt focus on understanding the precise mechanisms for how the black hole’s activity creates the jet and its connection to the ring-like structure around the black hole. The EHT collaboration is already planning more observations of M87 in the coming years, which will likely provide more detailed information about the black hole’s surroundings.
The discovery of a ring-like accretion structure surrounding the black hole in M87’s nucleus and its connection to the jet provides a new window into the behavior of one of the universe’s most enigmatic objects. This new information can help us understand how black holes interact with their environments and build more accurate models of the structure and evolution of galaxies. The EHT collaboration’s ongoing work to study black holes like the one in M87 will no doubt provide further breakthroughs in our understanding of the universe.