Spitzer Captures Messier 87 (EHT)

Spitzer_ssc2019-05a_1024

spitzer_ssc2019-05a April 25th, 2019

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPAC/Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

This image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87), the home galaxy of the supermassive black hole recently imaged by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Spitzer's infrared view shows a faint trace of a jet of material spewing to the right of the galaxy - a feature that was previously one key indicator that a supermassive black hole lived at the galaxy's center.

More prominent in the image is the shockwave created by that jet. The inset in the image below shows a close-up view of the shockwave on the right side of the galaxy, as well as the shockwave from a second jet traveling to the left of the galaxy.

Located about 55 million light-years from Earth, M87 has been a subject of astronomical study for more than 100 years and has been imaged by many NASA observatories, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and NuSTAR. In 1918, astronomer Heber Curtis first noticed "a curious straight ray" extending from the galaxy's center. This bright jet (which appears to extend to the right of the galaxy) is visible in multiple wavelengths of light, from radio waves through X-rays. The jet is produced by a disk of material spinning rapidly around the black hole, and spewing in opposite directions away from the galaxy. When the particles in the jet impact the interstellar medium (the sparse material filling the space between stars in M87), they create a shockwave that radiates in infrared and radio wavelengths of light, but not visible light.

The jet on the right is traveling almost directly toward Earth, and its brightness is amplified due to its high speed in our direction. But the jet's trajectory is just slightly offset from our line of sight with the galaxy, so we can still see some of the length of the jet. The shockwave begins around the point where the jet appears to curve down, highlighting the regions where the fast-moving particles are colliding with gas in the galaxy and slowing down.

There is also a second jet on the left that is moving so rapidly away from us it is rendered invisible at all wavelengths. But the shockwave it creates in the interstellar medium can still be seen here. In the Spitzer image, the shockwave is on the left side of the galaxy and looks like an inverted letter "C."

This image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows M87 looks like a hazy, blue space-puff. At the galaxy's center is a supermassive black hole that spews two jets of material out into space. This image shows a wide-field image of M87, also taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The top inset shows a close-up of two shockwaves, created by a jet emanating from the galaxy's supermassive black hole. The Event Horizon Telescope recently took a close-up image of the silhouette of that black hole, shown in the second inset.

Scientists are still striving for a solid theoretical understanding of how inflowing gas around black holes creates outflowing jets.

Infrared light at wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.5 microns are rendered in blue and green, showing the distribution of stars, while dust features that glow brightly at 8.0 microns are shown in red.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. Space operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

Provider: Spitzer Space Telescope

Image Source: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/6593-ssc2019-05a-Spitzer-Captures-Messier-87-EHT-

Curator: Spitzer Space Telescope, Pasadena, CA, USA

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Messier 87 M87 NGC 4486 Virgo A Virgo Cluster
Subject - Local Universe
Galaxy > Type > Elliptical
Galaxy > Size > Giant
Galaxy > Grouping > Cluster
Nebula > Type > Jet
Star > Evolutionary Stage > Black Hole

Distance

Universescale2
54,000,000 light years
Spitzer_ssc2019-05a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 12h 30m 34.8s
DEC = 12° 21’ 55.3”
Orientation
North is 30.0° CW
Field of View
17.9 x 17.9 arcminutes
Constellation
Virgo

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Near-IR) 3.6 µm
Green Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Near-IR) 4.5 µm
Red Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Mid-IR) 8.0 µm
Pseudocolor EHT Radio 1.3 mm
Spectrum_ir1
Blue
Green
Red
Pseudocolor
Spitzer_ssc2019-05a_1280
×
ID
ssc2019-05a
Subject Category
C.5.1.4   C.5.2.1   C.5.5.3   C.4.1.5   C.3.1.10  
Subject Name
Messier 87, M87, NGC 4486, Virgo A, Virgo Cluster
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPAC/Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration
Release Date
2019-04-25
Lightyears
54,000,000
Redshift
0.00428
Reference Url
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/6593-ssc2019-05a-Spitzer-Captures-Messier-87-EHT-
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Spitzer, Spitzer, Spitzer, EHT
Instrument
IRAC, IRAC, IRAC
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red, Pseudocolor
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Radio
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3600, 4500, 8000, 1300000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
Reference Value
187.6451366, 12.3653749
Reference Dimension
3580.0, 3580.0
Reference Pixel
1791.0, 1791.0
Scale
-8.33389e-05, 8.3338925e-05
Rotation
-30.00
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Spitzer Space Telescope
URL
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
1200 E. California Blvd.
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
91125
Country
USA
Rights
Publisher
Spitzer Science Center
Publisher ID
spitzer
Resource ID
ssc2019-05a.tif
Metadata Date
2019-04-25
Metadata Version
1.1
×

 

Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

×
Universescalefull
54,000,000 light years