Meet monstrous Messier 87

Lurking close to the centre of the massive agglomeration of galaxies which straddle the boundary between Virgo and Coma Berenices lies a circular, ninth-magnitude spot of light seen through binoculars and a small telescope on the Virgo side of the border.


How black hole jets break out of their galaxies

A computer simulation of the powerful jets generated by supermassive black holes at the centres of the largest galaxies explains why some burst forth as bright beacons visible across the universe, while others fall apart and never pierce the halo of the galaxy. A jet’s hot ionised gas is propelled by the twisting magnetic fields of the central rotating black hole.


Discovery measures “heartbeats” of a distant galaxy’s stars

In many ways stars are like living beings. They’re born; they live; they die. And they even have a heartbeat. Near the end of their lifetime they begin to pulsate, increasing and decreasing their brightness by a large amount every few hundred days. Using a novel technique, astronomers have detected thousands of stellar “pulses” in the galaxy Messier 87 (M87). Their measurements offer a new way of determining a galaxy’s age.