It is 10 times larger than the galaxy visible in the center of the image, where the supermassive black hole that emanated from it hundreds of millions of years ago is hiding.
This black hole was then “active”: it spews jets of charged particles at speeds close to the speed of light, which spread like a plume of smoke into the intergalactic environment. Their encounter with the magnetic field makes these luminous filaments shine, here imaged in radio waves by Lofar’s low-frequency antenna arrays.
“The filaments have already dissipated at other wavelengths; the advantage of lower frequencies is the ability to keep noticing them until the last moment, before they all come out. Act, Cyril Tass of the Paris Observatory, a member of the team of astronomers who made this image, explains. Thus, they noticed that the active black hole’s influence region can extend very far, to include the surrounding galaxies… and hinder their growth! Indeed, the plume of particles emitted by the black hole heats up the gas in the intergalactic medium, thus preventing it from condensing into surrounding galaxies to form new stars. So the observed evidence was presented: supermassive black holes have a region of influence that extends far beyond their own galaxy. An idea that has been floating in the air for several years.
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