A very powerful magnetic field has been detected at the edge of a supermassive black hole in the distant PKS 1830-211 galaxy.
The magnetic field is far more powerful than anything previously detected in the core of a galaxy.
Supermassive black hole are found at the center of almost all the galaxies and are a million times more massive than the Sun. These black holes accrete (come or bring together under the influence of gravitation) vast amounts of matter in the form of a disc. This matter is sucked in the black hole but some escape and are flung out into space at close to the speed of light as part of a jet of plasma.
This discovery can help astronomers understand the structure and formation of supermassive black holes and the the twin high-speed jets of plasma they frequently eject from their poles.
The artist's impression show accretion of matter forming a brilliant hot disk around the black hole. There are also often high-speed jets of material ejected at the black hole’s poles that can extend huge distances into space. Observations with ALMA have detected a very strong magnetic field close to the black hole at the base of the jets and this is probably involved in jet production and collimation.