Radio/X-ray/optical image of M87
This image is a composite of optical, radio, and X-ray data of the giant elliptical galaxy, M87. M87 lies at a distance of 54 million light-years and is the largest galaxy in the Virgo cluster of galaxies.
Bright jets of material moving at close to the speed of light are seen at all wavelengths coming from the massive black hole at the centre of the galaxy. M87 has also been identified with the strong radio source, Virgo A, and is a powerful source of X-rays as it resides near the centre of a hot, X-ray emitting cloud that extends over much of the Virgo cluster. The extended radio emission consists of plumes of relativistic (extremely hot) gas from the jets rising into the X-ray emitting cluster medium.
Data sources and credits:
The optical data of M87 were obtained with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys in visible and infrared filters (data courtesy of P. Cote (Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics) and E. Baltz (Stanford University)). Wide-field optical data of the center of the Virgo Cluster were also provided by R. Gendler (Copyright Robert Gendler 2006).
The X-ray data were acquired from the Chandra X-ray Observatory's AXAF CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS), and were provided by J. Forman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) et al.
The radio data were obtained by W. Cotton and also from archive processing using the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array (NRAO/VLA) near Socorro, New Mexico.