The Event Horizon Telescope, a consortium of eight telescopes worldwide, caught the first picture of a supermassive black hole at the core of Messier 87 in 2017. Scientists call the supermassive black hole’s gas accretion disk. The disk’s thick gas may heat to millions of degrees Fahrenheit.

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Messier 87’s enormous black hole. Supergiant elliptical galaxy Messier 87 is 55 million light-years from Virgo.

The center galaxy’s relativistic jet blasts beside the black hole. Ionized stuff in the jet moves at light speed. NASA says strong magnets in the disk capture all the material devoured by the black hole and funnel it away as a jet. Quasars are viewed at an angle, whereas Blazars are viewed from above.

The NASA-JPL-Caltech Event Horizon Telescope took the photo.

NASA’s image description

Earth’s Event Horizon Telescope photographed the first black hole in 2017 in bright elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87). In this Spitzer Space Telescope infrared view, M87, a 55 million-light-year-away Virgo galaxy giant, is blue. The Spitzer picture shows relativistic jets from M87’s center area, despite its cloud-like appearance.

In the upper right inset, the jets stretch thousands of light-years. Right-hand jet is coming. The shock from the retreating jet illuminates a fainter arc. At bottom right, a giant galaxy and relativistic jets surround the historic black hole image.

The Spitzer image does not resolve the supermassive black hole surrounded by infalling debris that powers the relativistic jets from active galaxy M87. The Event Horizon Telescope picture of M87 now shows the supermassive black hole more clearly.

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