Massive galactic emission spans 2 million light years

Shane McGlaun - Oct 23, 2012
Massive galactic emission spans 2 million light years

Astronomers have discovered a gigantic extended jet of cosmic material that is traveling at near the speed of light emerging from a distant galaxy. The massive galactic emission is coming from a quasar that formed approximately 6,000,000,000 years ago called PKS 0637-752. The gigantic emission shines with the power of 10 trillion suns.

The scientists believe that PKS 0637-752 is an early galaxy with a supermassive black hole in its center. That black hole spins gas and dust falling into around in a fashion similar to water going down a bathtub drain. The researchers say that the spiraling motion accelerates charged particles causing them to put out huge amounts of radiation.

The image seen above was taken using the CSIRO Australia Telescope Compact Array radio telescope located in New South Wales Australia. The image shows radio wavelengths of the massive jet of particles. One of the most interesting aspects of the photograph is the dot-like structure of the massive jet.

The structures are known as knots and scientists don't understand them well. The knots are believed to represent sections of the jet separated by an area of 160,000 to 360,000 light years each. The pattern is said to resemble an afterburner pattern from a jet here on Earth known as "shock diamonds." The pattern suggests that the jet of material spewing from the quasar is periodically turning on or off or some sort of shockwave is causing the knots.

[via Wired]

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