Mini-Jet at the Heart of the Milky Way

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Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Video imagery:

·       Milky Way black hole region (all wavelengths): SCIENCE: NASA, ESA, Gerald Cecil (UNC-Chapel Hill);
 IMAGE PROCESSING: Joseph DePasquale (STScI)
·       The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is an international partnership of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan, together with NRC (Canada), MOST and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.

Writer: Leah Ramsay
Designer: Leah Hustak, Joseph Olmsted
Science review: Dr. Kelly Lepo
Education review: Jim Manning
Music from Music for Non-Profits


A grid of photographs of celestial bodies moves up. A white line moves down and another across. Text, News from the universe. The text is above an image of Jupiter.
Text, December 17, 2021. Mini-Jet at the Heart of the Milky Way. Amorphous and striated patches of light with blue stars behind. A tan band of light with tan cloud around it in the lower center of the screen is labeled Impacted Hydrogen Cloud. A highlighted area from that to the bottom of the screen is labeled Proposed Jet. Text, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has found evidence of a jet that erupted from near the Milky Way's black hole thousands of years ago. This is exciting because, compared to other supermassive black holes, the Milky Way's is fairly inactive. This bright knot of gas is where a hydrogen cloud may have been impacted by a jet from the black hole.
Two bright tan patches of light on a background of tan and black.
Text, Other space telescopes joined in the investigation.
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory detected superheated gas closer to the black hole, shown in blue.
Blue spots of light and clouds, as the image moves up, a larger cloud of blue appears.
Text, Green indicates molecular gas pushed by the proposed jet, emitting radio waves detected by the ALMA Observatory.
Below the tan highlight of the proposed jet, a green and white swirl labeled Molecular gas pushed by jet. Below that, Black Hole (S g r, A).
Text, These data are evidence that though it is quiet now, our galaxy's black hole must have shown brilliantly billions of years ago, when the Milky Way was taking in lots of infalling gas.
This news was brought to you in part by the Space Telescope Science institute in Baltimore Maryland