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Active galactic nucleus (AGN), computer artwork

Active galactic nucleus (AGN), computer artwork

C042/6279

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Credit

NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Active galactic nucleus (AGN), computer artwork. An AGN is a galactic core that emits a higher luminosity than can be produced by the galaxy's stars alone. The supermassive black hole at the centre of this galaxy is surrounded by a bright accretion disk and a darker torus of gas and dust. As gas falls into the black hole the gravitational energy is converted into heat and the heated gas emits radiation. Relativistic jets of charged particles (magenta) stream outward from the accretion disk at nearly the speed of light. Such active black holes are often found at the hearts of elliptical galaxies. Not all black holes have jets, but when they do, the jets can be pointed in any direction. If a jet happens to shine at Earth, the object is called a blazar.

Release details

Model release not required. Property release not required.

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