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Quasars & Active Galaxies
X-ray Astronomy Field Guide
Quasars & Active Galaxies
Questions and Answers
Quasars & Active Galaxies
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Quasars & Active Galaxies
Animations & Video: Quasars & Active Galaxies
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Click for high-resolution animation
1. Tour of GB 1428+4217
QuicktimeMPEG The most distant jet in X-ray light has been discovered using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. This jet was found in the quasar known as GB 1428+4217, or GB 1428 for short. How does GB 1428 make its jet? When giant black holes pull in material at a very rapid rate, large amounts of energy are released. This results in the production of intense radiation and beams of high-energy particles that blast away from the black hole at nearly the speed of light. Astronomers call these beams of particles "jets". At a distance of 12.4 billion years from Earth, the jet in GB 1428 gives astronomers a glimpse into the explosive activity associated with the growth of giant black holes in the early Universe.
[Runtime: 1.01]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
2. Tour of NGC 4178
QuicktimeMPEG A supermassive black hole with one of the lowest masses ever observed has been spotted in the middle of a galaxy, using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and several other observatories. The black hole is located in the middle of the spiral galaxy NGC 4178, shown in this optical image. The inset shows an X-ray source at the position of the black hole, located at the center of a Chandra image. An analysis of the Chandra data, along with infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope and radio data from the Very Large Array suggests that the black hole has a mass less than about 200,000 times that of the sun. This is lower than the mass of most supermassive black holes. The host galaxy is of a type not expected to harbor supermassive black holes, suggesting that this black hole, while related to its supermassive cousins, may have a different origin.
[Runtime: 1.05]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. Tour of CID-42
QuicktimeMPEG At the center of a galaxy some 4 billion light years from Earth, something extraordinary is happening. This galaxy, known as CID-42, contains a giant black hole. This fact itself is not so unusual. What is different about CID-42 is that this supermassive black hole is being ejected from its host galaxy at several million miles per hour. What led to this black hole ejection? Astronomers think that in the past CID-42 collided with another galaxy. When it did, the two central black holes also collided and merged. The joined black hole then received a powerful kick from gravitational waves, a phenomenon predicted by Einstein but never directly detected. While astronomers have been studying CID-42 for quite some time, it took new data from Chandra's High Resolution Camera to pinpoint just where the X-rays were coming from, which helped clarify just what was going on in this galaxy.
[Runtime: 01:03]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
4. Simulation of Black Hole Ejection
QuicktimeMPEG This simulation shows a collision between a pair of spiral galaxies leading to a merger between their supermassive black holes and an ejection of the new black hole that forms. This represents a model for the formation and evolution of the exotic X-ray source CID-42.
The galaxy collision causes long tails of stars to be thrown out of each galaxy. After the collision the two black holes (labelled by circles) initially located at the center of each galaxy orbit around each other until they eventually merge. The newly formed black hole recoils from the directional emission of gravitational waves produced by the collision, giving the newly merged black hole a sufficiently large kick for it to eventually escape from the galaxy. The simulation freezes briefly to make a comparison with the HST optical image, at a time about 6 million years after the merger. The speed of the black hole at this time is over three million miles per hour, compared to the escape velocity of the galaxy of only about 1.7 million miles per hour.
The masses of the two galaxies are about 450 billion and 230 billion times the mass of the sun, with stars forming throughout the simulation. The masses of the two black holes just before they merge are about 5.4 and 4.3 million times the mass of the sun, giving a total of about 10 million solar masses for the new black hole. Both black holes grow considerably during the galaxy collision. The total duration of the movie is 2 billion years, with the merger and ejection of the black hole occurring after 1.9 billion years. The movie runs at half speed after the merger so the eye can track the black hole flying out of the galaxy. The recoiling black hole could be detectable, by radiation from material in a surrounding disk, for several million years after the time of the observation. By the end of the simulation, the BH has virtually exhausted its gas supply and is moving, invisible, through intergalactic space.
[Runtime: 00.29]
(Laura Blecha)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
5. Tour of CID 1711 and CID 3083
QuicktimeMPEG Astronomers have recently completed a large survey of the sky using some of the powerful telescopes both on the ground and in space. This survey, known as the Cosmic Evolution Survey, or COSMOS, has revealed many results. The latest comes from a study of galaxies, both in pairs and others on their own. Researchers wanted to test whether or not close encounters between two galaxies trigger activity in the supermassive black holes at their centers. The two galaxies seen here are just samples from the thousands of galaxies they studied. The Chandra data were key because the X-rays can pinpoint just how active these black holes are. It turns out that the black holes within these galaxies are, in fact, growing more rapidly if they are in the early stages of an encounter with another galaxy. Maybe galaxies and their black holes are social after all.
[Runtime: 1.07]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
6. X-ray and Optical Images of NGC 3393
QuicktimeMPEG This sequence shows images of NGC 3393, a spiral galaxy with a pair of supermassive black holes likely left behind after a merger with another galaxy. The first image is a composite of X-rays from Chandra (blue) and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (orange and yellow). Zooming into the galaxy’s central region, the view transitions to observations from only Chandra. Two separate peaks of X- ray emission (roughly at 11 o'clock and 4 o'clock) can clearly be seen. These two sources are actively growing black holes a mere 490 light years apart. Because X-rays are generated as gas falls towards the black holes and becomes hotter, astronomers were able to detect the black holes in the Chandra data.
[Runtime: 00:20]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
7. Tour of NGC 3393
QuicktimeMPEG Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have discovered the first pair of supermassive black holes in a spiral galaxy similar to the Milky Way. These black holes were found in the galaxy NGC 3393, which is located about 160 million light years from Earth. This is the view of NGC 3393 from both Chandra and the Hubble Space Telescope. Zooming in further, we see what the center of the galaxy looks like in just X-rays. The two peaks of X-ray emission are, in fact, black holes that are actively growing. They glow in X-rays as gas falling toward the black hole gets hotter. Separated by only 490 light years, the black holes in NGC 3393 are likely the remains of a galactic merger that took place a billion or more years ago.
[Runtime: 1.02]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
8. Tour of VV 340
QuicktimeMPEG VV 340, also known as Arp 302, is a textbook example of colliding galaxies seen in the very early stages of their interaction. Astronomers have named the edge-on galaxy at the top VV 340A, and VV 340B is the face-on galaxy at the bottom of the image. Millions of years later these two spirals will merge - much like the Milky Way and Andromeda will likely do billions of years from now. Chandra data are being shown here with optical data from Hubble. VV 340 is located about 450 million light years from Earth.
[Runtime: 00:45]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
9. Multiwavelength Views of NGC 4151
QuicktimeMPEG These images feature the central region of the spiral galaxy NGC 4151. In the pupil of the "eye," X-rays (blue) from Chandra are combined with optical data (yellow) showing positively charged hydrogen. The red around the pupil reveals neutral hydrogen detected by radio observations. Next, we zoom in to a close-up of the central region of the galaxy. The dimensions of the close-up are only 2,000 light years across. Here, the Chandra X-ray data from the larger image are shown in blue, and we add in radio data from the VLA (purple) and HST data (yellow) showing oxygen emission. The linear structures show clear evidence for an earlier outburst from a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy.
[Runtime: 0.30]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/J.Wang et al.; Optical: Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, La Palma/Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope, Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
10. Tour of Super-volcano M87
QuicktimeMPEG Earlier this year, a powerful volcano in Iceland erupted and caused havoc with air traffic around Europe. Elsewhere in the Universe, a similar galactic super volcano has been erupting for millions of years. This composite image from NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory with radio data from the Very Large Array shows a cosmic volcano being driven by a black hole in the center of the M87 galaxy. This eruption is pumping energy into the black holes surroundings and preventing hundreds of millions of new stars from forming just as the volcano in Iceland caused disruptions in the Earths atmosphere. The comparison between the black hole in M87 and the volcano in Iceland shows that even though astronomical phenomena occur in exotic settings and over huge scales, the physics can be very similar to events on Earth.
[Runtime: 01.01]
(X-ray (NASA/CXC/KIPAC/N. Werner, E. Million et al); Radio (NRAO/AUI/NSF/F. Owen) Volcano image: Omar Ragnarsson)

Related Chandra Images:
  • Photo Album: M87

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