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Hercules A



Hercules A

Hercules A, 3C 348, Spectacular jets powered by the gravitational energy of a super massive black hole in the core of the elliptical galaxy Hercules A illustrate the combined imaging power of two of astronomy's cutting-edge tools, the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3, and the recently upgraded Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in New Mexico.

Some two billion light-years away, the yellowish elliptical galaxy in the center of the image appears quite ordinary as seen by Hubble in visible wavelengths of light. The galaxy is roughly 1,000 times more massive than the Milky Way and harbors a 2.5-billion-solar-mass central black hole that is 1,000 times more massive than the black hole in the Milky Way. But the innocuous-looking galaxy, also known as 3C 348, has long been known as the brightest radio-emitting object in the constellation Hercules. Emitting nearly a billion times more power in radio wavelengths than our Sun, the galaxy is one of the brightest extragalactic radio sources in the entire sky.

The jets coming from the galaxy are high energy plasma beams, subatomic particles and magnetic fields emitted at incredibly high speeds from the central region of the galaxy. The ring- like structure suggests that they were created from multiple ejections from the central supermassive black hole. The galaxy is also one of the brightest extragalactic radio sources in the sky, and the source is surrounded by a cloud of hot, X-ray emitting gas.

VIDEO

Rob Gutro
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
301-286-4044
robert.j.gutro@nasa.gov

Donna Weaver / Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
410-338-4493 / 410-338-4514
dweaver@stsci.edu /
villard@stsci.edu


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