Astronomers used the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to make the first direct image of a dusty, doughnut-shaped feature surrounding the supermassive black hole at the core of one of the most powerful radio galaxies in the universe -- a feature first postulated by theorists nearly four decades ago as an essential part of such objects. The scientists studied Cygnus A, a galaxy some 760 million light-years from Earth. The galaxy harbors a black hole at its core that is 2.5 billion times more massive than the sun. As the black hole's powerful gravitational pull draws in surrounding material, it also propels super-fast jets of material traveling outward at nearly the speed of light, producing spectacular "lobes" of bright radio emission. Shown here: An artist's conception of the dusty, doughnut-shaped object surrounding the supermassive black hole; disk of material orbiting the black hole; and jets of material ejected by the disk, at the center of a galaxy.
Visit Website | Image credit: Bill Saxton/NRAO/AUI/NSF