Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Twin jets pinpoint the heart of an active galaxy

15.09.2016

German astronomers have measured the magnetic field in the vicinity of a supermassive black hole. A bright and compact feature of only 2 light days in size was directly observed by a world-wide ensemble of millimeter-wave radio telescopes in the heart of the active galaxy NGC 1052. The observations yield a magnetic field value at the event horizon of the central black hole between 0.02 and 8.3 Tesla. The team, led by the PhD student Anne-Kathrin Baczko, believes that such a large magnetic field provides enough magnetic energy to power the strong relativistic jets in active galaxies.

The technique used to investigate the inner details of NGC 1052 is known as very-long-baseline interferometry, and has the potential to locate compact jet cores at sizes close to the event horizon of the powering black hole. The black hole itself remains invisible.


3-mm GMVA image of NGC 1052 showing a compact region at the centre and two jets (bottom), and a sketch with an accretion disk and two regions of entangled magnetic fields forming two jets (top).

Anne-Kathrin Baczko et al., Astronomy & Astrophysics


Three telescopes participating in the Global Millimetre VLBI Array (GMVA): MPIfR’s Effelsberg 100m (above), IRAM’s Pico Veleta 30m (lower left) and Plateau de Bure 15m telescopes (lower right).

IRAM (Pico Veleta & Plateau de Bure); Norbert Junkes (Effelsberg & Zusammenstellung)

Usually, the black hole position can only be inferred indirectly by tracking the wavelength-dependent jet-core position, which converges to the jet base at zero wavelength. The unknown offset from the jet base and the black hole makes it difficult to measure fundamental physical properties in most galaxies.

The striking symmetry observed in the reported observations between both jets in NGC1052 allows the astronomers to locate the true center of activitiy inside the central feature, which makes, with the exception of our Galactic Centre, the most precisely known location of a super massive black hole in the universe.

Anne-Kathrin Baczko, who performed this work at the Universities of Erlangen-Nürnberg and Würzburg and at the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, says: “NGC 1052 is a true key source, since it pinpoints directly and unambiguously the position of a supermassive black hole in the nearby universe.”

NGC 1052 is an elliptical galaxy in a distance of approximately 60 million light years in the direction of the constellation Cetus (the Whale).

The magnetic field by the supermassive black hole was determined measuring the compactness and the brightness of the central region of the elliptical galaxy NGC 1052. This feature is as compact as 57 microarcseconds in diameter, equivalent to the size of a DVD on the surface of the moon.

This amazing resolution was obtained by the Global mm-VLBI Array, a network of radio telescopes in Europe, the USA, and East Asia, that is managed by the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie. “It yields unprecedented image sharpness, and is soon to be applied to get event-horizon scales in nearby objects”, says Eduardo Ros from the MPI für Radioastronomie and collaborator in the project.

The unique powerful twin jets at a close distance, similar to the well-known active galaxy M 87, puts NGC 1052 in the pole position for future observations of nearby powerful galaxies in the oncoming era opened by the addition of ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimetre array, to the world-wide networks in radio interferometry.

The observation may help solving the long-standing mystery of how the powerful relativistic jets are formed, that can be seen in many active galaxies. The result has important astrophysical implications, since we see that jets can be driven by the extraction of magnetic energy from a rapidly rotating supermassive black hole.

The Global Millimetre VLBI Array consists of telescopes operated by the MPIfR, IRAM, Onsala, Metsähovi, Yebes and the VLBA. The data were correlated at the correlator of the MPIfR in Bonn, Germany. The VLBA is an instrument of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

MPIfR scientists involved in the project are Anne-Kathrin Baczko, the first author, Eduardo Ros, Thomas Krichbaum, Andrei Lobanov and J. Anton Zensus.

Original Paper:

A highly magnetized twin-jet base pinpoints a supermassive black hole? A.-K. Baczko, R. Schulz, M. Kadler, E. Ros, M. Perucho, T. P. Krichbaum, M. Böck, M. Bremer, C. Grossberger, M. Lindqvist, A. P. Lobanov, K. Mannheim, I. Martí-Vidal, C. Müller, J. Wilms, and J. A. Zensus, 2016, Astronomy & Astrophysics, 593, A47.
www.aanda.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201527951

Local Contact:

Anne-Kathrin Baczko,
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn.
Fon: +49 228 525-366
E-mail: baczko@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Prof. Dr. Eduardo Ros,
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn.
Fon: +49 228 525-125
E-mail: ros@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/pressreleases/2016/10

Norbert Junkes | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht The dispute about the origins of terahertz photoresponse in graphene results in a draw
25.04.2018 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

nachricht Structured light and nanomaterials open new ways to tailor light at the nanoscale
23.04.2018 | Academy of Finland

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dispute about the origins of terahertz photoresponse in graphene results in a draw

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Graphene origami as a mechanically tunable plasmonic structure for infrared detection

25.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed

25.04.2018 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>