Record-Setting X-ray Jet Discovered


X-ray jet from quasar GB 1428. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/NRC/C.Cheung et al; Optical: NASA/STScI; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA

X-ray jet from quasar GB 1428. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/NRC/C.Cheung et al; Optical: NASA/STScI; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA

A jet of X-rays from a supermassive black hole 12.4 billion light years from Earth has been detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. This is the most distant X-ray jet ever observed and gives astronomers a glimpse into the explosive activity associated with the growth of supermassive black holes in the early universe.

The jet was produced by a quasar named GB 1428+4217, or GB 1428 for short. Giant black holes at the centers of galaxies can pull in matter at a rapid rate producing the quasar phenomenon. The energy released as particles fall toward the black hole generates intense radiation and powerful beams of high-energy particles that blast away from the black hole at nearly the speed of light. These particle beams can interact with magnetic fields or ambient photons to produce jets of radiation.

“We’re excited about this result not just because it’s a record holder, but because very few X-ray jets are known in the early universe,” said Teddy Cheung of the National Academy of Sciences, resident at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, and lead author of the paper describing these results.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/news/xray_jet.html
Also: http://www.chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2012/gb1428/

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