Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

December 2, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Micro-Quasar GRS1915 Puffs
Credit: R. Spencer (U. Manchester) et al., MERLIN, Jodrell Bank

Explanation: On the far side of our Galaxy, gas clouds explode away from a small black hole. This might seem peculiar, as black holes are supposed to attract matter. But material falling toward a black hole collides and heats up, creating an environment similar to a quasar that is far from stable. In the above time-lapse sequence, micro-quasar GRS1915 expels bubbles of hot gas in spectacular jets. These computer enhanced radio images show one plasma bubble coming almost directly toward us at 90 percent the speed of light, and another moving away. Each of the four frames marks the passage of one day. Originally detected on October 29th, these bubbles have now faded from view.

Tomorrow's picture: Runaway Star

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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&: Michigan Tech. U.