This animation provides a close-up look at the behavior of a central black hole in the nucleus of an active galaxy. An accretion disk of infalling material surrounds a central black hole that may be millions or billions of times the mass of our Sun. Some of the superheated material escapes along the black hole's rotation axis. Powerful magnetic fields keep the material confined to an extragalactic jet. Hubble Space Telescope spectroscopic observations of active galactic nuclei reveal how stellar material is blown back into intergalactic space.
Publication: September 9, 2009