Radio Jets Would Dwarf The Moon… If Only We Could See Them

This strange purple plume that dwarfs the moon is what we’d see if our eyes could perceive radio waves. These jets, over a million light-years long, are spewing from the massive black hole in the Centaurus A galaxy.

The black hole at the centre of Centaurus A is many millions of times more massive than the sun. The radio jets are so huge that they take up an angular area in the night sky that’s over 200 times that of the full moon. Centaurus A is the closest galaxy to us – only about 10 to 16 million light-years away that is highly luminous in radio wavelengths, making it an ideal object of study to understand how these energy jets interact with stars and the dust that accumulates between galaxies.

Here you can see the full image – click on it to get a much better look, because it’s seriously awesome. This photo superimposes the Centaurus A jet at its real angular size over a photo of the Australian Telescope Compact Array at night. Here’s the really awesome part: none of those bright objects in the background are stars. Instead, they’re all distant far radio sources just like that of the Centaurus A jet. It took several years and over a thousand hours of exposure time to create what is now the most detailed map of galaxy-class radio jets in the universe.


Republished from io9

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