The new images will be able to provide new insight into the role that black holes play in star formation, and will be able to change our understanding of how galaxies evolve.
The images show the processes taking place in a galaxy in unparalleled detail.
Radio waves emitted by galaxies appear. Scientists often choose to study it, since radio waves are easier to observe than visible light. Many regions of the universe that have been dimmed suddenly light up when instruments that capture radio waves instead of visible light are used, writes BBC.
We sat on something no one had seen before
The innovative thing here is that the researchers, by integrating images from 70,000 different antennas, were able to dramatically improve the resolution. But it is not an easy task. The researchers spent six years developing an entirely new method that allowed them to retrieve signals from each individual antenna, digitize the signal, transmit it to a processor, and then combine all the data and turn it into images. The team behind this method is a research group led by Professor Lea Morabito at Durham University.
“I’ve been walking around with a big smile all day, because I knew we were wearing something no one had seen before,” says Morabito the day the research group realized what they’d achieved.
A new look at sleeping black holes
Morabito’s team produced the image at the top of the case and it shows a nearly invisible galaxy surrounded by two massive orange planes – both much larger than the galaxy itself – that were launched from the galaxy.
The jets are produced by a supermassive black hole located at the heart of the galaxy. This isn’t the first time scientists have observed a relativistic jet, but in this case, the images have given them new insight into a black hole’s dormancy, the periods when a black hole nearly sleeps and ejects less material.
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The image above shows light from a galaxy that arose when the universe was only 2.6 billion years old. By comparison, the universe is probably about 14 billion years old now. In the middle you see the galaxy itself, while the light above and below are the jets. Until now, it has not been possible to study such ancient galaxies in detail.
Even experienced astronomers get chin drops
The images show that galaxies are more than just accumulating stars. Professor Neil Jackson from the University of Manchester told the BBC that these factories are powered by solar energy, produce planets and are driven by black holes.
Even seasoned astronomers get chin drops when they see these images. Obviously, if we want to gain a greater understanding of galaxies, we have to learn about the black holes at their cores.Jackson says.
These images made this possible, because they are of such high quality that they allow researchers to zoom in on the image and study details they could not access before. Morabito and scientists hope that the images will help astronomers better understand the processes that lead to the formation of stars and planets, including our solar system.
So far, the images have yielded nine published studies, all dealing with black holes, but according to the research team, this is only the beginning.
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