Because of the vastness of the universe, what we see on earth often happens on a galactic scale, too. Such is the case with a black hole seemingly playing billiards.
This discovery was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope as a string of images that span 20 years. For more information, look towards the journal Nature.
According to Dr. Eileen Meyer of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) “Something like this has never been seen before in an extragalactic jet.” “This will allow us a very rare opportunity to see how the kinetic energy of the collision is dissipated into radiation.”
In the next decade, scientists hope to continue observing the collision, learning even more about the universe from these rarely seen jets.
The jet is believed to be composed of highly energized plasma that has been shot into space by the supermassive black hole at the center of NGC 3862. The plasma is actually being shot toward us, slightly skewing our view of the event.
According to professor of astrophysics at the UK University of Hertfordshire, Martin Hardcastle, it was “very nice to see.”
“These chunks of stuff follow each other up the jet and you would expect fast ones to run into slow ones,” Prof Hardcastle told the BBC.
“When that happens what you get is a hydrodynamic shock, which means that energy is transferred from blob number two, to material that used to make up blob number one. As a result, you increase the energy of the particles in the fluid… so you see a brightening effect.
“There’s a lot of interpretation going into this, because even Hubble can’t see this as sharply as you would like. But it’s perfectly plausible that’s what they’re seeing.”