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HDF 130: Ghost Remains After Black Hole Eruption
HDF 130

  • HDF is a diffuse X-ray source located over 10 billion light years away.

  • This ghostly source was generated by a powerful eruption from a supermassive black hole in a large galaxy.

  • Such X-ray ghosts last longer than the original black hole eruptions allowing the impact of these outbursts to be more easily studied.

This is a composite image showing a small region of the Chandra Deep Field North. Shown in blue is a deep image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and in red is an image from the Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network (MERLIN) an array of radio telescopes based in Great Britain. An optical image from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is shown in white, yellow and orange.

The diffuse blue object near the center of the image is believed to be a cosmic "ghost" generated by a huge eruption from a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy. This X-ray ghost, a.k.a. HDF 130, remains after powerful radio waves from particles traveling away from the black hole at almost the speed of light, have died off. As the electrons radiate away their energy they produce X-rays by interacting with the pervasive sea of photons remaining from the Big Bang - the cosmic background radiation. Collisions between these electrons and the background photons can impart enough energy to the photons to boost them into the X-ray energy band. The cigar-like shape of HDF 130 and its length of about 2.2 million light years are consistent with the properties of radio jets.

HDF 130 is over 10 billion light years away and existed at a time 3 billion years after the Big Bang, when galaxies and black holes were forming at a high rate. Near the center of the X-ray ghost is a radio point source indicating the presence of a growing supermassive black hole. This source corresponds to the location of a massive elliptical galaxy visible in very deep optical images (not shown here). The nearby red object in the SDSS image located immediately above and to the right of the radio source is another, unrelated galaxy located closer to the Earth.

Fast Facts for HDF 130:
Credit  X-ray (NASA/CXC/IoA/A.Fabian et al.); Optical (SDSS), Radio (STFC/JBO/MERLIN)
Release Date  May 28, 2009
Scale  Image is 8.2 arcmin across
Category  Cosmology/Deep Fields/X-ray Background, Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 12h 36m 17.6s | Dec +62° 15´ 44.5"
Constellation  Ursa Major
Observation Date  11/20/2000-02/22/2002
Observation Time  514
Obs. ID  167, 238, 234, 957, 2232-2234, 2421, 2423, 3294, 3388-3391, 3408-3409
Instrument  ACIS
References Fabian et al. 2009, MNRAS, 395, L67
Color Code  X-ray (Blue); Optical (White, Yellow, Orange); Radio (Red)
Distance Estimate  About 10 billion light years
distance arrow
Visitor Comments (10)

Beautiful and inspiring work. I have loved astronomy all my life and you do good work.

Posted by Sue Ogden on Saturday, 04.1.17 @ 12:34pm

Dear Bonusje,
This quasar (containing a supermassive black hole) is found in Pegasus and has been studied with Chandra:
There will be many other massive black holes in this constellation, all located outside our galaxy, and possibly some stellar-mass black holes located inside our galaxy. No evidence is known for a black hole only 2.1 light years away in any direction.
-P. Edmonds, CXC

Posted by P. Edmonds on Tuesday, 02.14.12 @ 10:21am

Have You ever Found a Black Star in Pegasus at 2,1 ly?

Posted by Bonusje on Tuesday, 01.31.12 @ 12:17pm

10,000,000 light years away, wow, brilliant photo.

Posted by philip clive on Sunday, 09.26.10 @ 10:47am

An image of an event that occurred before our Solar System was born. Incredible. Thank you ever so much.

Posted by George Reed on Saturday, 04.3.10 @ 08:33am

Your images and explanations make my day. Outstanding. I know it takes a lot of work and all we have to do is sit here in awe. Keep up the good work.

Posted by Dr Nick Tavani on Wednesday, 07.29.09 @ 15:47pm

Your excellent work and images are noted in the online Daily Galaxy news. Thanks for your work and sharing.
Cheers STJ

Posted by Sonia St James on Friday, 07.3.09 @ 09:46am

Dear Jim,
Thanks for your comment. The most likely explanation for the apparent blobs and trails in the X-ray image, besides what's in the central region,
is that they are relatively strong noise fluctuations in the image. That is, they are not likely to be real astronomical objects, like galaxy clusters. Because the X-ray ghost is faint, an image that is optimised to show it will inevitably show faint signals from noise.

Posted by -Peter for CXC on Friday, 06.5.09 @ 12:06pm

Thanks for such a wonderful image explanation, hope to see more in coming days.

Posted by shikhor on Thursday, 06.4.09 @ 12:14pm

Please add explanation to the article of what the xray trails are going out to the bright spots and what the trail of xray blobs are in the image It is not explained in RDCS 1252 9-2927 either
Thank you
Jim Rees

Posted by Jim Rees on Sunday, 05.31.09 @ 10:51am

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