After nearly a decade of work, the images were created from data collected by the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR), a radio telescope.
LOFAR is a network of more than 70,000 small branches spread over nine European counties, with its nucleus in Exloo, the Netherlands.
The new images push the boundaries of what we know about galaxies and supermassive black holes.
According to Dr Neal Jackson of the University of Manchester, “These high-resolution images allow us to zoom in to see what really happens when super-massive black holes launch radio jets, which was not previously possible at frequencies close to the FM radio band.
Scientists believe that at one point, high-energy ultraviolet radiation from exploded stars split intergalactic hydrogen atoms into electrons and protons. Once ionized, hydrogen would be electrically conductive and would no longer diffuse light.
These elements are forged by nuclear fusion inside the stars, so that either the galaxy contains the exploded remains of many massive stars, or it formed in a region of space that had previously been seeded with the remains. from a previous generation of stars, the scientists said.
“Our goal is for this to allow the scientific community to use the entire European LOFAR telescope network for their own science, without having to spend years becoming an expert,” said lead author Dr Leah Morabito of Durham University.
The immense regions between the star systems of a galaxy are not a complete void. The stew of matter and radiation present in low densities, mainly gas, is called the interstellar medium.
About 15% of the visible matter in our Milky Way galaxy is made up of this interstellar gas, dust, and energetic particles like cosmic rays.
Much of the interstellar medium is in what is called an ionized, or electrically charged, state called plasma.
Galaxies are surrounded by extremely dense black holes, with gravitational forces so fierce that not even light escapes.
There are three categories of black holes. The smaller ones, like “the Unicorn”, are so-called stellar mass black holes formed by the gravitational collapse of a single star. There are gigantic “supermassive” black holes like the one in the center of our galaxy, 26,000 light years from Earth, or four million times the mass of the sun. A few intermediate-mass black holes were also found with masses somewhere in between.
(With contributions from agencies)