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Evidence of jet in Milky Way's supermassive black hole found

Washington, Nov 21 : Astronomers, who have long sought strong evidence that Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, is producing a jet of high-energy particles, have finally found it.


The astronomers used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope to make the finding.

Previous studies, using a variety of telescopes, suggested there was a jet, but these reports -- including the orientation of the suspected jets -- often contradicted each other and were not considered definitive.

"For decades astronomers have looked for a jet associated with the Milky Way's black hole. Our new observations make the strongest case yet for such a jet," lead author Zhiyuan Li of Nanjing University in China, said.

Jets of high-energy particles are found throughout the universe, on large and small scales.

They are produced by young stars and by black holes a thousand times larger than the Milky Way's black hole.

They play important roles in transporting energy away from the central object and, on a galactic scale, in regulating the rate of formation of new stars.

The jet appears to be running into gas near Sgr A*, producing X-rays detected by Chandra and radio emission observed by the VLA.

The two key pieces of evidence for the jet are a straight line of X-ray emitting gas that points toward Sgr A* and a shock front -- similar to a sonic boom -- seen in radio data, where the jet appears to be striking the gas.

Additionally, the energy signature, or spectrum, in X-rays of Sgr A* resembles that of jets coming from supermassive black holes in other galaxies.

The findings are published online in The Astrophysical Journal.

--ANI (Posted on 21-11-2013)

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