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Physicists Meyer & Georganopoulos publish article in Nature

Hubble data used to test theory of black hole plasma jets

May 29, 2015 11:54 AM
Assistant Professor Eileen Meyer and Associate Professor Markos Georganopoulos, physics, have published a new article in the prestigious journal Nature, describing innovative analysis of Hubble Space Telescope data.

The co-authors found a rare example of black holes behaving in ways that have previously eluded observers. Black holes are often found to be accompanied by powerful jets of high-energy particles streaming away from them. The flow of these jets is uneven, so faster parts of the jet can catch up to slower parts of the jet. These parts then interact, but the interactions are not well-understood.

Meyer, Georganopoulos and their co-authors used images from the Hubble Space Telescope to discover an example of this interaction coming from the black hole at the heart of a nearby galaxy, where the jets (which are both very large and very far away) could be observed. These images were taken over a period of 25 years, during which time the jet had enough changes in its appearance for its behavior to be analyzed.

Meyer is a new UMBC faculty member after previously working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which manages the Hubble Space Telescope. This paper represents the important collaboration of scientists at STScI, UMBC and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Florida Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, and Italy's Instituto Nazionale Astrofisica. For photos, video, and more information on this work, see HubbleSite.org.