NASA says the best case yet has been made for a jet from our Milky Way galaxy’s central, supermassive black hole. The evidence comes in the form of high-energy particles seen in the image above to be blasting out of the hole.
Astronomers combined X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory with radio emission from the NSF’s Very Large Array (VLA) to create the composite image above. This image reveals the position of the suspected jet and Sagittarius A* (Sgr A* for short; pronounced Sagittarius A-star).
Sgr A* is believed to be the location of a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.
The location of a shock front is also marked. As the jet blasts from Sgr A*, it travels through space until it hits gas several light years away. Once the jet hits, it triggers the shock front’s formation.
It’s now generally accepted by astronomers that most spiral and elliptical galaxies have supermassive black holes in their cores, as our spiral Milky Way galaxy does.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.