X-ray view shows how supermassive black holes accelerate particles

By looking deep into the heart of a blazar, astronomers have learned how particles are accelerated to near light speeds, to flee in a jet emanating from near the blazar’s monstrous supermassive black hole.

The blazars are quasars seen from the front; a quasar is an extremely active galactic nucleus (AGN), which is powered by a black hole accreting large amounts of matter. Matter orbits the black hole in an accretion disk, where conditions are so extreme that the disk glows millions of degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. The tightly intertwined magnetic fields enveloped in the disc are able to evacuate some of the material into tightly collimated jets pulling away from the center of the accretion disk in both directions. The charged particles in these jets spin around the magnetic field lines, emitting what is called synchrotron radiation. It is this radiation that produces most of the light we see shining from quasars and blazars, in which one of the jets points toward Earth.

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