Super-Massive Black Hole Inflates Giant Bubble

This false colour image shows the galaxy M87. Optical light is shown in white/blue (SDSS), the radio emission in yellow/orange (LOFAR). At the centre, the radio emission has a very high surface brightness, showing where the jet powered by the supermassive black hole is located.

ScienceDaily (Oct. 29, 2012) Like symbiotic species, a galaxy and its central black hole lead intimately connected lives. The details of this relationship still pose many puzzles for astronomers.

Some black holes actively accrete matter. Part of this material do not fall into the black hole but is ejected in a narrow stream of particles, traveling at nearly the speed of light. When the stream slows down, it creates a tenuous bubble that can engulf the entire galaxy. Invisible to optical telescopes, the bubble is very prominent at low radio frequencies. The new International LOFAR Telescope - designed and built by ASTRON in an international collaboration - is ideally suited to detect this low frequency emission.