Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

This Is the Highest Angular Resolution Image of Space Ever Captured

This rainbow splatter might not look like the beautiful images of galaxies you’re used to seeing, but it’s actually rather special. It’s the highest angular resolution astronomical image ever captured, and it shows a jet of matter erupting out of a black hole 900 million light years away.

Advertisement

The image shows the a jet emerging from the black hole known as BL Lacertae, captured at a wavelength of 22GHz. And boy did it take some effort to capture: It’s based on data acquired by 15 separate radio telescopes here on Earth. The sensing ability of that joint effort provided what the researchers call a “projected baseline distance”—the effective field over which data is collected—of 7.9 Earth diameters in length, or 62,000 miles.

That distance allowed the team to create a highly detailed image of the black hole’s jet, with an angular resolution—that’s the angle between parts of an image, measured from the point of observation, between which its possible to between distinguish small details—of 21 micro arc seconds. Or, in (slightly) more comprehensible terms, 0.000000006 degrees. The work is published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Advertisement

The jet itself measures a couple of hundred billion miles in length. But, as Popular Science points out “because we’re so far away from the jet, the resulting image is equivalent to looking up at the moon from Earth and being able to see a half-dollar coin on the surface.” So, pretty impressive then.

[The Astrophysical Journal via Popular Science]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

Quigi concedes to Proud Mary, who keeps on burnin relentlessly

I was thinking last night about how we were able to derive advanced maths, which most of us require machines to calculate, and yet still believe how the planets could control aspects of their lives. How could they have missed all the other enlightenments which must have evolved with the gained abilities that maths can give, how? Then I thought of us,today, ...now.