The most detailed image of cosmic rays published: it defies modern physics

Scientists have revealed new details about the plasma jet of 3C 279, a flare with a supermassive black hole at its core. Using a network of radio telescopes on Earth and in space, astronomers have captured the most detailed image yet of a plasma jet emitting from a supermassive black hole. It moves at almost the speed of light and exhibits complex, winding shapes near its source. These models challenge standard theory. Scientists have used it for 40 years to explain how these rays form and evolve over time. Blazar is the brightest and most powerful source of electromagnetic radiation in space.

This is a subclass of active galactic nuclei, which includes galaxies with a supermassive black hole at the center that is accreting material from the surrounding disk. About 10% of active galactic nuclei are classified as quasars that produce relativistic plasma jets or jets. Blazar belongs to a small group of quasars whose jets are aimed almost directly at the observer. Recently, a team of researchers, including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, Germany, obtained unprecedented angular resolution images of the inside of the jet as it emerges from 3C blazar 279 with a supermassive black hole in his heart.

Astronomers have discovered surprisingly regular spiral filaments, requiring a review of the theoretical models used to date to explain jet formation processes in galaxies is active. Scientists also discovered that the jet has at least two twisted filaments of plasma extending 570 light-years from the center. The plasma rays emitted from the beams are not completely straight and uniform. They offer unexpected twists that show how the plasma is affected by the forces surrounding the black hole. Astronomers who studied these vortices (or spiral filaments) in 3C 279 found that they are caused by instabilities developing in the plasma jet.

As he did so, he realized that the new image defied modern physics. An old theory that scientists have been using for 40 years to explain the changing structure of jets over time no longer works. Therefore, new theoretical models are needed to explain how such spiral filaments form and grow so close to the jet source. This is not only a serious challenge, but also a great opportunity to learn more about these amazing cosmic phenomena.