Weekly Psalm 19: Hercules A

Here is your weekly reminder of Psalm 19 — the radio galaxy Hercules A.

Hercules A is a radio galaxy — an active galactic nucleus that emits an unusually high amount of radiation in the radio part of the EM spectrum. It’s about 2 billion light-years from Earth, and is the highest radio-emitting object in the constellation Hercules. Even though this galaxy is named for the constellation in which it appears, it certainly lives up to its name — it’s about 1,000 times more massive than the Milky Way, contains a black hole that is 1,000 times more massive than the black hole in the center of the Milky Way, and, as you can see in the image, it’s shooting out radio jets that span an incredible 1.5 million light-years in length.

This image is a composite of visible light (Hercules A in the center, as well as the stars in the foreground and other galaxies in the background) and radio light (the jets and lobes). The jets and lobes are comprised of charged particles accelerated to near-light speed and twisted magnetic fields. The jets and magnetic fields emanate from a region very close to the central, supermassive black hole.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, S. Baum and C. O’Dea (RIT), R. Perley and W. Cotton (NRAO/AUI/NSF), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).

One thought on “Weekly Psalm 19: Hercules A

  1. “shooting out radio jets that span an incredible 1.5 million light-years in length”

    Cleaning out the Augean Stables takes a lot of energy.

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