back to article Black hole spews out 2-million-light-year-long stream of WTF

Astronomers have spotted a supersonic cosmic jet blasting two million light years from the centre of a distant galaxy's supermassive black hole. Supermassive black hole The jet, which looks like the afterburner of a fighter plane, is moving at nearly the speed of light and its origins and composition are a mystery. A …

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  1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Boffin

    Largest things in the universe?

    It depends on what you think is a single "thing," I suppose. Clusters of galaxies are larger than 2 million light years. Super-clusters are bigger still. These are organized in walls and filaments, and these in turn form the cosmic web. Quite a few people say the cosmic web is the largest thing.

    Still an impressive jet.

  2. MikeyD85

    Goddamnit science

    When are you going to give us some closure!?

    1. NinjasFTW
      Alien

      Re: Goddamnit science

      I personally hope never!

      I always want to be wandering about how the bloody hell X works

      1. ukgnome
        Joke

        Re: Goddamnit science

        have never worked out my X's either

      2. Vic

        Re: Goddamnit science

        > I personally hope never!

        "There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

        There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

        RIP, Douglas...

        Vic.

  3. wowfood
    Joke

    Clearly

    I've never seen one before. No one has, but I'm guessing it's a white hole.

    Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. A black hole sucks time and matter out of the Universe; a white hole returns it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: Clearly

      So, what is it?!

      1. Ian McNee
        Boffin

        Re: Clearly

        I've never seen one before. No one has, but...

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Clearly

      Every late project should have a white hole on its desk, then.

      1. tomban
        Joke

        Re: Clearly

        So, what is it?!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Clearly

      Close to. In physics a black whole is a white hole. It looses energy through hawkins radiation (Spell?). However, sending out the large jets also redistributes matter and energy around the universe back into, then out of, galaxies.

      No idea if this is in balance or massively one sided though. Could it all end up in the black hole before it all ends up spewed back out? :P

      1. Vic

        Re: Clearly

        > In physics a black whole is a white hole.

        You've not watched Red Dwarf, then?

        > It looses energy through hawkins radiation

        *loses*. *Hawking*.

        Vic.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Clearly

          So what is it?

          1. Vic

            Re: Clearly

            > So what is it?

            Somebody punch him out...

            Vic.

  4. Dropper
    Angel

    Easy

    "we still don't understand exactly how they are produced or what they're made of"..

    They're all the missing single socks and bic-pen lids that God stole from us..

  5. WeaselNo7

    Nnnnng

    "around a hundred times bigger than the Milky Way"

    *brain melts*

    1. Laurie
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nnnnng

      *brain melts*

      It doesn't have to... this is a distance you can get your head around (sort of).

      Assuming you're in the Northern hemisphere on a clear night, take a pair of binoculars (they don't even have to be very powerful) and point them in the direction of Cassiopeia. Find the larger of the 2 triangles that make up the big "W" and follow it down towards the constellation of Andromeda. You should come across a dim oval shaped smudge of light taking up a healthy chunk of your field of view. This is M31 - the Andromeda galaxy.

      M31 is about 2.5 million light years away and is one of the furthest things you can see with the naked eye (though it's a lot easier with binos). All you have to do is visualise a bloody great jet of 'WTF' extending from you to M31 and presto! You've visualised something 2 million light years long.

      1. That Awful Puppy
        WTF?

        Re: Nnnnng

        The distance-to-Andromeda example melted my brain.

      2. firefly

        Re: Nnnnng

        "The simple truth is that interstellar distances will not fit into the human imagination" - D.N.A.

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Nnnnng

          They do. Just scale it down then back up. Milkyway? size of a Chocolate bar. Distance between here and Andromeda? About 18 chocolate bars. :D

          Now, just scale up the chocolate bar to the size of our Galaxy. Your done. :)

          1. chris 233
            Headmaster

            Re: Nnnnng

            For a "pedantic grammar Nazi" (the icon you chose), YOU'RE pretty clueless about YOUR placement of apostrophes and the spelling of pronouns.

            -- A real grammar Nazi.

      3. asdf Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Nnnnng

        Bah 2 million light years is not all that far. At its current speed it would only take voyager 1, 37,508,472,896 years (or so) to go that far. At over twice the current age of the universe this is quite easy to comprehend :P

  6. geejayoh
    Black Helicopters

    I for one welcome...

    Perhaps it is merely the afterglow of our galactic neighbours who, years ago realised the danger and tyranny of black holes and are systematically destroying them all with massive weapons tech. Back to reading Culture novels...

  7. paulc

    'kin huge Mach diamonds...

    google them... some nice images

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: 'kin huge Mach diamonds...

      Mach diamonds are a boy's best friend.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: 'kin huge Mach diamonds...

        Should that not be macho diamonds?

        Sorry, I'll get me coat

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some people know

    Regular astronomers may not know the origin and cause of jets, but plasma astrophysicists do, because they understand plasmas and how they produce particle beams, pinched filaments, cosmic Birkeland currents and astrophysical jets. The only thing what will accelerate charged particles away from a black hole is an electric field (magnetic fields make charged particles move in circles). The EM force is 10^40 times stronger than gravity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some people know

      The only problem with your reasoning is that EM forces are so strong that they are very unlikely to subsist for all but very little, little time. For all we know, the bigger accumulation of whatever usually shorten its life.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Some people know

        Electromagnetic (EM) forces are ubiquitous throughout the universe. 99.999% of the visible universe is plasma by mass and by volume. Plasma consists of charged particles which generate electromagnetic fields. The heliospheric current sheet is the largest structure in our Solar System, and is due to EM forces. The Solar Wind overcomes the Sun's gravity because of electromagnetic forces.

        What other force can overcome the gravitation force of a black hole?

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Some people know

      Not "plasma astrophysicists solves everything" again?

      1. pepper

        Re: Some people know

        I this about the electric universe nutters again? I mean im fine with a comprehensive theory, but what they say seems silly enough.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Some people know

          The post clearly referred to "plasma astrophysicists".

  9. Beachrider

    The beading is probably from twisting in the jet...

    If the picture image-sampling is simple, then the 'beading' probably comes from rotation of a non-tubular matter-jet. It would be VERY COOL if it was something else, though...

    1. Vic
      Joke

      Re: The beading is probably from twisting in the jet...

      > It would be VERY COOL if it was something else, though...

      Given the amount of energy involved, I'd be more likely to believe that it is VERY HOT...

      Vic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The beading is probably from twisting in the jet...

        Ah, but if each particle is spaced very far apart, on average is is very cool. ;)

  10. Annihilator
    Headmaster

    Hmm

    "Astronomers have spotted a supersonic cosmic jet blasting two million light years from the centre of a distant galaxy's supermassive black hole."

    Really?...

    1. Benchops
      Holmes

      Re: Hmm

      Well since we all know that in space no-one can hear you scream, pretty much any moving thing is supersonic, no?

    2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      Since "near-light-speed" is faster than the speed of sound in any medium that I can think of, I can accept the jet as being well and truly supersonic.

      A rare bit of understatement for a Reg hack... Enjoy it when it happens!

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Hmm

      Supersonic relative to the intergalactic hydrogen gas, I would imagine.

      So, yes, really.

      No owl picture, so a penguin will have to do.

  11. Joe User
    Coat

    Black hole spews out 2-million-light-year-long stream of WTF

    Man, I gotta lay off the curry!

  12. KrisMac
    Alien

    Dumb question time from interested amateur......

    Why is the jet non-linear? Every other image of a cosmic jet I have ever seen has been effectively a straight line.. this one appears to wriggle about as it moves outwards from the black hole.

    Could it be that the jet is encountering massive resistance a it travels away from its parent causing the leading edge to slow down? I was thinking dark matter, but unless there is a vast amount of the crazy stuff in the immediate vacinity of this specific black hole then that explanation still doesn't satisy the question of why this jet is so different from othersthat have been visualised.

    Of course I've just not looked at as many jet images as others around here :-)

    1. KrisMac
      Alien

      Re: Dumb question time from interested amateur......

      ..of course the other answer to my own question is that the source is wobbling around, which kind of implies spin on the black hole?

    2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Dumb question time from interested amateur......

      They are not all straight lines. Some hit obstacles, some are from spinning holes. Etc.

      You can see photos of these from telescopes/nasa/hubble.

  13. Zmodem

    jets kind of destroy the theory of nothing can escape black holes, black holes are worm holes, black holes are a million other things

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Who said they were escaping? Ever heard of the Voyager craft? They "zipped" past some planets to gain gravitational energy.

      1. Zmodem

        "Black hole spews out 2-million-light-year-long stream of WTF"

        "If the brighter patches are caused by the same process in astronomical jets as they are in earthly jet engines"

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    God also loves a lit fart

    He just does them on a larger scale.

    1. Vic

      Re: God also loves a lit fart

      ...Well, it's that or arm-wrestle with Chugs...

      Vic.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    As above, so below

    I bet if you could get close enough you'd spot someone driving this thing with the windows down and radio on.

    "He's got all of bloody infinity to play with, but he has to keep racing up and down outside our universe"

    1. hamcheeseandonion
      Angel

      Re: As above, so below

      Image of Celestial Chariot, with 2 Borg Cubes instead of furry dice, driven by a shell-suited Omnipotent Chav-Being called Shayne....

      That might finally answer all those "but-why-does-God-allow-bad-things-to-happen" questions.

      Answer? He's too busy, cant' be arsed, and anyway Call Of Duty version 3, 531,229 is out, so he's off to his mates and won't be back any time soon (eternity x 2).

  16. Zetetic
    Angel

    Shirley, its a noodly appendage...

  17. micheal

    Will science understand

    Black holes or Women first?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Will science understand

      Black holes for sure - women take the uncertainty principle to whole new levels of unpredictability!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whatever it is, it doesn't matter.

    'cos it's gone now anyway.

  19. bag o' spanners
    Paris Hilton

    whirly bits

    If memory fails me well, don't the ejector plumes inevitably reach a distance where the goo they've spewed starts to be affected by the gravitational effects of other gigantic celestial gooblobs. Using the Vulture scale of unimaginability, I'll hazard a guess that this one is just a tiddler, and that something much larger, and moodier, is lurking in the background with a celestial yoyo thingy which it's using to snare its prey.

    The most unimaginable thing I can't quite imagine is what this looks like from the other side..

    *Paris, because I brainfarted in the lift.*

  20. Steve Mason
    Flame

    "Supersonic" ?

    Supersonic jets? No S*** Sherlock!

    ... define the speed of sound in an almost total vacuum :p

  21. akfennell

    If a black hole's gravity is said to be strong enough to prevent light from escaping, why is it that we see gamma radiation, x-rays, and this "tail" we see? Also, why is it that the ejections all seem to be perpendicular to the ring around the hole.?

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