Aussie scientists examine black hole 55 mln times mass than Sun

Updated 2017-12-12 16:02:15 Xinhua

Astronomers have used a powerful array of telescopes across Australia and the rest of the world to examine a black hole 55 million times more massive than the Sun.

The research published Tuesday showed how the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) used two radio telescopes and several optical telescopes to get a closer look at the intricate workings of a galaxy known as Centaurus A.

"As the closest radio galaxy to Earth, Centaurus A is the perfect cosmic laboratory to study the physical processes responsible for moving material and energy away from the galaxy's core," Dr. Ben McKinley from the ICRAR said in a statement.

Although the galaxy is located more than 12 million light-years away from the Earth, astronomically it's considered a mere stone's throw.

"Being so close to Earth and so big actually makes studying this galaxy a real challenge because most of the telescopes capable of resolving the detail we need for this type of work have fields of view that are smaller than the area of sky Centaurus A takes up," McKinley said.

But the team was able to use the Murchison Widefield Array in Western Australian along with the Parkes Observatory telescope on the other side of the country in Central New South Wales to get a more complete picture.

Both of these radio telescopes have extremely large fields of view, which allows scientists to examine a vast portion of sky, making it possible to see all of Centaurus A in one clear image with "great detail."

Observations from other optical telescopes around the world including the Magellan Telescope in Chile, Terroux Observatory in Canberra, and the High View Observatory in Auckland were also compiled in the data.

"If we can figure out what's going in Centaurus A, we can apply this knowledge to our theories and simulations for how galaxies evolve throughout the entire Universe," co-author from ICRAR, Prof. Steven Tingay said.

"As well as the plasma that's fuelling the large plumes of material the galaxy is famous for, we found evidence of a galactic wind that's never been seen -- this is basically a high speed stream of particles moving away from the galaxy's core, taking energy and material with it as it impacts the surrounding environment."

Results from the findings which compared the radio telescope observations of the galaxy with the optical views also suggest the stars belonging to Centaurus A may have existed further out than previously thought.

The speculation from scientists is that the winds and jets emanating from the galaxy may have moved their position over time.

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