Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Backyard Black Holes!

Last night, the astronomy session was one of the best that I've had in many months.  The new moon had already set, the sky was without clouds, transparency was good, as was the seeing.

I had to use a vacation day from work so I could stay out all night, but it was worth it!

By now, everyone has probably seen the iconic image of M87's supermassive black hole, first published in April of 2019.

It was created after years of data gathering and processing by the scientists of the  Event Horizon Telescope collaboration.

First image of a black hole, using Event Horizon Telescope 
observations of the center of galaxy M87. Credit: Event Horizon 
Telescope Collaboration.
Astronomy magazine has a good article here.

But what does this have to do with me as an amature astronomer?

It turns out that M87's black hole is causing a relativistic jet of matter to be emitted from the center of the galaxy.  

Under good conditions, such as those last night, this jet is visible with modest equipment like mine.

This was captured with my ZWO ASI294MC imager mounted in place of the eyepiece of my 10 inch SkyWatcher Dob.

M87 and jet, labeled.
The image was created from 40 frames of 4 seconds each, stacked.  The resulting image was very high resolution and tightly focused.

Here is the area of M87, magnified.

M87 with jet
Pretty cool, huh?


  1. Yes, pretty cool.

    I'm happy for you that you had such a clear, dark night!

  2. I'd say it's better than pretty cool. It's really cool!!! Great image, C!

    1. Thanks! M87 was in the sweet spot of the sky and the equipment performed well all night.

  3. DATA CONFIRMS Skunks are NOT astronomy friendly. Love this post!! You never cease to inform and impress!!

    1. Thanks! Experimental evidence also suggests that daytime skunks are not canine friendly, either. So says Dalton, who while on a walk with DW, pounced into the underbrush to see what critters he could startle out.


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