Plasma Jets

Jets of high-energy plasma and sub-atomic particles explode outward from the Hercules A elliptical galaxy at the center of this photo. The jets are driven to speeds close to that of light due to the gravitation of the supermassive black hole at the center of the elliptical galaxy. Relativistic effects mask the innermost portions of the jets from our view, but, as the jets slow, they become unstable, billowing out into rings and wisps whose turbulent shapes suggest multiple outbursts originating from Hercules A. (Photo credit:NASA, ESA, S. Baum and C. O’Dea (RIT), R. Perley and W. Cotton (NRAO/AUI/NSF), and the Hubble HeritageTeam (STScI/AURA); via Discovery)

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