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News Release Archive:

News Release 244 of 964

April 14, 2009 09:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2009-16

Hubble Witnesses Spectacular Flaring in Gas Jet from M87's Black Hole

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Image: Hubble Witnesses Flare-Up in Extragalactic Jet

Hubble Witnesses Flare-Up in Extragalactic JetSTScI-PRC2009-16

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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:

These images taken in ultraviolet light by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveal the brightening of a jet of gas blasting from the core of the gigantic elliptical galaxy M87. M87 is located 54 million light-years away in the Virgo Cluster.

The flare-up is coming from a knot of hot gas, called HST-1, embedded in the jet. The jet is powered by accretion onto a supermassive black hole, one of the most massive black holes yet discovered.

Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) snapped the top row of images and Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) the bottom row. The core of M87 is located at lower left in the images. HST-1 is the bright blob at center. The glowing material at far right is part of a stream of particles in the jet that speed up and glow in the ultraviolet.

The Hubble images, obtained from the Hubble archive, show the jet growing brighter over a seven-year period, eventually outshining even the luminous core of M87. The ACS image taken on May 9, 2005, reveals that HST-1 has become brighter than M87's core. HST-1 is 214 light-years from the core.

Hubble's crisp vision gives astronomers a clear view of the brightening knot. The telescope resolves HST-1 and separates it from the galaxy's core.

Object Name: M87

Image Type: Astronomical/Annotated

Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Madrid (McMaster University)

NEWS RELEASE IMAGES

The above montage includes these images:

M87 Nucleus and Bright Knot - STIS - May 17, 1999 Image Type: Astronomical M87 Nucleus and Bright Knot - STIS - May 17, 1999 M87 Nucleus and Bright Knot - STIS - February 27, 2002 Image Type: Astronomical M87 Nucleus and Bright Knot - STIS - February 27, 2002 M87 Nucleus and Bright Knot - STIS - July 17, 2002 Image Type: Astronomical M87 Nucleus and Bright Knot - STIS - July 17, 2002 M87 Nucleus and Bright Knot - ACS - April 17, 2003 Image Type: Astronomical M87 Nucleus and Bright Knot - ACS - April 17, 2003 M87 Nucleus and Bright Knot - ACS - May 9, 2005 Image Type: Astronomical M87 Nucleus and Bright Knot - ACS - May 9, 2005 M87 Nucleus and Bright Knot - ACS - November 28, 2006 Image Type: Astronomical M87 Nucleus and Bright Knot - ACS - November 28, 2006

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