The Hubble Space Telescope has found the answer to a long-standing puzzle by seeing the details of giant but delicate filaments shaped by a strong magnetic field around the active galaxy NGC 1275.
These filaments are the only visible-light manifestation of the intricate relationship between the black hole hosted at the centre of the galaxy and the surrounding cluster gas. They provide important clues about how giant black holes affect their surrounding environment.
NGC 1275 is one of the closest giant elliptical galaxies. It is an active galaxy lying at the centre of the Perseus Cluster of galaxies. The supermassive black hole at its core blows bubbles of radio-wave emitting material into the surrounding cluster gas. Its most spectacular feature is the lacy filigree of gaseous filaments reaching out beyond the galaxy into the multi-million degree X-ray emitting gas that fills the cluster.
The full release is available on ESA's Science and Technology pages.
Notes for editors:
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA.
For more information:
Andy Fabian, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, UK
E-mail: acf @ ast.cam.ac.uk
Lars Lindberg Christensen, Hubble/ESA, Garching, Germany
E-mail: lars @ eso.org