All throughout the Universe, black holes are abundant.
Even light cannot escape from within these dense, gravitational regions.
Many are formed from the core-collapse of massive stars.
Others arise from mergers of less massive objects.
But the most massive ones of all reside at the centers of galaxies.
Supermassive black holes grow via mergers and accretions, to millions or even billions of solar masses.
Even our own Milky Way has one: 4.3 million solar masses big.
From our perspective on Earth, it’s the largest black hole in terms of angular size.
But the second-largest has even more spectacular features: at the center of galaxy Messier 87.
Messier 87 is the most massive galaxy within the Virgo Cluster: some 55 million light-years away.
It emits a central jet of radiation extending for 5,000+ light-years.
That jet is powered by a 6.5 billion solar mass supermassive black hole.
We’ve now measured its extended X-ray emissions,
its extended radio lobes,
the accelerated matter arising from its accretion disk,
radio light at the event horizon itself,
evolving over time,
plus the polarization of that radio light.
It’s the most clearly imaged black hole ever, from the event horizon to thousands of light-years away.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.