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Highest resolution image so far unveils secrets of a galaxy’s center

EFEFUTURO.- An international combination of 15 ground-based radio antennas and Russia’s Spektr-R orbital radiotelescope yielded the highest resolution image obtained in astronomy so far, peering into the innermost regions of an active galaxy, researchers said.

Representación del núcleo activo de una galaxia/Wolfgang Steffen. Imagen facilitada por el CSIC.

The research team led by Jose Gomez, of the Astrophysics Institute in Andalusia, Spain, developed new tools for the study of active galaxies.

The image was obtained through very-long-baseline interferometry, or VLBI, which has been used since 1974 by multiple radiotelescopes around the world to synthesize an antenna with the equivalent size of the largest separation between them.

Working simultaneously, the antennas create a virtual telescope with an equivalent size of eight times the Earth’s diameter, Spain’s National Council for Scientific Research, or CSIC, said in a press release.

The array makes it possible to peer “with unprecedented accuracy” into the innermost regions of the BL Lacertae, the nucleus of a galaxy, located 900 million light years from Earth, where a black hole 200 million times the mass of our sun, swallows surrounding matter.

Active galaxy nuclei are the most high-energy objects in the universe and may continuously issue more than 100 times all the energy released by all stars in the Milky Way. EFEfuturo
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