Discovery of an X-ray jet from a distant black hole

X-ray Jet

Astronomers discovered an X-ray jet that was emitted from a quasar when the universe was only 2.7 billion years old, using the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The length of the jet is at least 300,000 light years. Many similar jets have been detected in the nearby universe but very few have been observed at such large distances. Usually these jets emit at lower energies of the electromagnetic spectrum (radio wavelengths) and are found using radio observations. The recently observed jet has nearly no radio signal but a strong X-ray signal (high energies). What makes a jet to give off X-rays has remained a matter of debate. It appears that electrons ejected from the supermassive black hole that fuels the quasar, collide with photons from the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), boosting the energy of the photons up onto the X-ray band of the electromagnetic spectrum. In the case of this very distant quasar, it seems that these electrons keep moving at nearly the speed of light for hundreds of thousands of light years.

According to the scientists that made the detection,  the discovery of such an object may signal the existence of an entire population of similar systems with bright X-ray and faint radio jets at large distances that will have been missed since we haven’t been systematically looking for them.



Publication: Simionescu et al. 2016

Source: Chandra