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Tossing around numbers beyond our human chimp-brain comprehension and using a worldwide combination of radio telescopes, astronomers have discovered that bursts of very high energy gamma rays are coming from a region very close to the supermassive black hole at the core of M87 more than six billion times more massive than the Sun.
The black hole in M87 has an "event horizon," from which matter cannot escape, roughly twice the size of our Solar System, or a tiny fraction of the size of the entire galaxy. The new measurements indicate that the gamma rays are coming from an area no larger than 50 times the size of the event horizon.
The discovery provides important new information about the mysterious workings of the powerful "engines" in the centers of innumerable galaxies throughout the Universe.
"Combining the gamma-ray observations with the supersharp radio 'vision' of the VLBA allowed us to see that the gamma rays are coming from a region very near the black hole itself," said Craig Walker, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).
But not beyond the event horizon.
As that material traveled down the jet, expanding and losing energy, the gamma-ray emission ceased, but the radio continued to increase in brightness," Walker explained. "The VLBA showed us with great precision where the radio emission came from, so we know the gamma rays came from closer in toward the black hole," he added.
im not much of a physicist, but i always though that the rays that emit from black holes actualy come from the Accretion disks surrounding them.
With XMM-Newton and Integral, they could detect some of the X-rays and gamma rays, emitted by the accretion disc, which partially penetrate the torus. "By peering right into the torus, we see the black hole phenomenon in a whole new light, or lack of light, as the case may be here," Beckmann said.