A giant elliptical galaxy, M87 is home to several trillion stars, making it one of the most massive galaxies in the local Universe. About 52 million light years away, it is located at the centre of the Virgo cluster, the nearest cluster of galaxies to the Local Group, to which our own Milky Way galaxy belongs.

A supermassive black hole as massive as billions of stars like our Sun sits at the core of M87, accreting material from its surroundings at an extremely intense rate. The black hole’s accretion produces powerful jets that launch energetic particles close to the speed of light outwards into the surrounding cluster environment, as well as inflating giant bubbles that lift cooler gas from the cluster centre and form the filamentary structures visible in this image.

Black Hole

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