Black Hole Pumps Iron

Hydra A

This composite image of the Hydra A galaxy cluster shows 10-million-degree gas observed by Chandra in blue and jets of radio emission observed by the Very Large Array in pink. Optical data (in yellow) from the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope and the Digitized Sky Survey shows galaxies in the cluster.

Detailed analysis of the Chandra data shows that the gas located along the direction of the radio jets is enhanced in iron and other metals. Scientists think these elements have been produced by Type Ia supernova explosions in the large galaxy at the center of the cluster. A powerful outburst from the supermassive black hole then pushed the material outwards, over distances extending for almost 400,000 light years, extending beyond the region shown in this image. About 10 to 20 percent of the iron in the galaxy has been displaced, requiring a few percent of the total energy produced by the central black hole.

Carnival of Space

-K. Arcand, CXC

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