Monday, December 10, 2012

Hercules A, or, the Scale of the Universe

NASA scientists have assembled this "multi-wavelength" view of radio galaxy Hercules A, combining visual light and radio waves to show enormous jets shooting out from a giant black hole. The scale of this is astonishing. Each of those jets is 1.5 million light years long; the diameter of the  Milky Way Galaxy is about 100,000 light years, so each jet spans 15 times the width of our galaxy. The black hole is estimated to be about 2.5 billion times as massive as the sun.

Here is the radio wave part of that image, which I actually find even more striking than the combined image getting all the attention.

1 comment:

leif said...

that is just stunning. we humans just aren't equipped to process numbers indicating such a vast scale. the common tropes about football fields or circles 'round the earth just don't cut it.

thanks for sharing.