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‘Bullets’ of gas around supermassive black hole

Last Updated: Saturday, October 1, 2011 - 18:58

Washington: Scientists have discovered unprecedented details close to a supermassive black hole, thanks to a fleet of spacecraft including ESA`s XMM-Newton and Integral.

The spacecrafts have revealed huge ‘bullets’ of gas being driven away from the ‘gravitational monster’.

The black hole that the team chose to study lies at the heart of the galaxy Markarian 509, 500 million light years away in space.

“XMM-Newton really led these observations because it has such a wide X-ray coverage, as well as an optical monitoring camera,” said Jelle Kaastra, SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

Kaastra coordinated an international team of 26 astronomers from 21 institutes on four continents to make these observations

The bullets get stripped away from a dusty reservoir of matter waiting to fall into the black hole.

The surprise is that the reservoir is situated more than 15 light years away from the black hole. This is further than what some astronomers thought was possible for the wind to originate.


First Published: Saturday, October 1, 2011 - 18:58

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