This is an artwork of a supermassive black hole with a jet streaming outward at nearly the speed of light. Such active black holes are found at the hearts of most if not all galaxies, including our own Milky Way. The most massive galaxies, the giant ellipticals, can host black holes with masses measured in billions of Suns. The disc seen here is the accretion disc that surrounds the black hole, made from stars and gas clouds that strayed too close and were destroyed by the monster's powerful gravity. As the gas swirls into the disc it is heated to extremely high temperatures, giving the entire construction an unimaginable luminosity. Some such cosmic powerhouses can be seen over distances of many billions of light-years, and are thought to power the mysterious quasars.
Image provided by Getty Images.
January 10th, 2019
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