[M87 in radio light, NRAO]

HST image of M87's jet.

[M87 jet, NRAO and HST]

Space Telescope Science Institute astronomers and their co-investigators have gained their first glimpse of the mysterious region near a massive central object at the heart of a distant active galaxy, where a powerful stream of subatomic particles spewing outward at nearly the speed of light is formed into a beam, or jet, that then goes nearly straight for thousands of light-years. The astronomers used radio telescopes in Europe and the U.S., including the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), to make the most detailed images ever of the center of the galaxy M87.

[top left] - This radio image of the galaxy M87, taken with the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in February 1989, shows giant bubble-like structures where radio emission is thought to be powered by the jets of subatomic particles coming from the the galaxy's central massive object. The false color corresponds to the intensity of the radio energy being emitted by the jet.
Credit: National Radio Astronomy Observatory/National Science Foundation

[top right] - A visible light image of the giant elliptical galaxy M87, taken with NASA Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in February 1998, reveals a brilliant jet of high-speed electrons emitted from the nucleus (diagonal line across image). The jet is produced by a 3-billion-solar-mass central object.
Credit: NASA and John Biretta (STScI/JHU)

[bottom] - A Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) radio image of the region close to the black hole, where an extragalactic jet is formed into a narrow beam by magnetic fields. The false color corresponds to the intensity of the radio energy being emitted by the jet. The red region is about 1/10 light-year across. The image was taken in March 1999.
Credit: National Radio Astronomy Observatory/Associated Universities, Inc.

  • Original Press Release STScI-PRC99-43

  • M87 Observations by NRAO/VLA
  • More VLA and NRAO images of Messier Objects

  • HST images of M87 and its central object (the "Smoking Gun"; June 1994)
  • A Cosmic Searchlight: M87's nucleus and jet imaged by the HST (August 2000)
  • More Hubble Space Telescope images of Messier Objects

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

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    Last Modification: 2 Sep 2001