NASA has discovered a jet from a very distant supermassive black hole that is being illuminated by the oldest light in the Universe – the big bang. Astronomers have used Chandra X-ray Observatory and they have found that the length of the jet, found in the system known as B3 0727+409, is at least 300,000 light years long.. This discovery may mean that black holes with powerful jets may be more common than previously thought in the first few billion years after the Big Bang. Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have discovered a jet from a very distant black hole. And what makes it so noteworthy is that the leftover glow from the Big Bang made it possible. This jet known as B3 0727+409 allow astronomers to study black holes at almost the very beginning of the cosmos, in fact the light emitted is about 2.7 billion years!
Waht makes B3 0727+409 so special ist that so far almost no radio signal has been detected from this object, while it is easily seen in the X-ray image. “We essentially stumbled onto this remarkable jet because it happened to be in Chandra’s field of view while we were observing something else,” said co-author Lukasz Stawarz of Jagiellonian University in Poland. “If bright X-ray jets can exist with very faint or undetected radio counterparts, it means that there could be many more of them out there because we haven’t been systematically looking for them,” said Stawarz. The research was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The length of the jet, found in the system known as B3 0727+409, is at least 300,000 light years. Many long jets emitted by supermassive black holes have been detected in the nearby Universe, but exactly how these jets give off X-rays has remained a matter of debate. In B3 0727+409, it appears that the CMB is being boosted to X-ray wavelengths.
An astrophysical jets are a phenomenon often seen in astronomy and basically it is distinguished by streams of matter being emitted along the axis of rotation of and object and in this the central object is a black hole. When matter is emitted at speeds approaching the speed of light, the jets are called relativistic jets and scientists think that B3 0727+409 has electrons in the jet flying from the black hole at close to the speed of light.
As they move through the sea of CMB radiation and collide with microwave photons it boosts the energy of the photons up into the X-ray band to be which were detected by Chandra. If this is true, it means that electrons in the B3 0727+409 jet have kept moving at nearly the speed of light for hundreds of thousands of light years.
The significance of this discovery is remarkable because astronomers found this jet while observing a galaxy cluster in the field, and that meansit means that there could be many more of them out there because astronomers haven’t been systematically looking for them. The reason is that historically, distant jets have been discovered by radio waves then followed up with X-ray observations to look for high-energy emission. If bright X-ray jets can exist with very faint or undetected radio counterparts,
Via:The Astrophysical Journal Letters, NASA
Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/ISAS/A. Simionescu et al, Optical: DSS