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Markarian 421 firing high-energy particle jet towards Earth

Markarian 421 which is a supermassive black hole located about 400 million light-years away from Earth, firing high-energy particle jet towards Earth.

What’s in News?

NASA’s IXPE (X-ray Polarimetry Explorer) has unveiled several mysteries of the Supermassive Black Hole, Markarian 421 which is firing high-energy particle jet towards Earth.

Markarian 421

  • Markarian 421 is a supermassive black hole which is firing high-energy particle jet aimed directly at Earth.
  • It is located in the constellation Ursa Major.
  • It is about 400 million light-years away from the Earth.

Supermassive Black Hole

Supermassive black hole is a very massive object, found at the centres of the galaxies where they can grow by swallowing gas, dust, stars and planets. They have such a strong gravitational pull that nothing, not even light, can escape from it. They can have millions or billions of times the mass of our sun.

The origin of supermassive black holes is not entirely understood, but they are thought to have formed and grown through a combination of processes, including accretion of gas and the merging of smaller black holes over billions of years.

Supermassive Black holes are associated with powerful phenomena, such as active galactic nuclei (AGNs) and quasars, where vast amount of energy are released as material falls into the black hole and emits intense radiation.

Characteristics of Supermassive Black Hole:

  • They have a mass greater than about 50,000 times the mass of our Sun.
  • These black holes are far too large to have formed from the gravitational collapse of a single star.
  • These are always found at the centre of the galaxies.
  • All galaxies have supermassive black hole at its centre.

Jet of high-energy particles

It is a stream of matter and radiation that is ejected from the vicinity of a black hole at very high speeds, close to the speed of light. The jet is formed by the interaction of the black hole’s strong magnetic field and the rotating disk of material that surrounds it. The disk is called an accretion field because it feeds the black hole with matter.

Reason of Markarian 421’s jet pointing towards Earth

Markarian 421‘s jet is pointing towards Earth because Earth is in its line of sight. This makes it a special type of supermassive black hole system called a blazar.

Blazar: Blazars are very bright and variable sources of gamma rays and X-rays because we see the jet’s radiation boosted by phenomenon called relativistic beaming.

 

 

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