X-ray, Infrared and Radio image of NGC 4696
Credit:X-ray: NASA/CXC/KIPAC/S.Allen et al; Radio: NRAO/VLA/G.Taylor; Infrared: NASA/ESA/McMaster Univ./W.Harris

Fuel Efficiency Standard

Black holes are, theoretically speaking, some of the most efficent engines in the Universe. Carnot would be proud, or maybe annoyed. But X-ray observations of galaxies which harbor black holes help astronomers determine if these theoretical estimates are really true. A case in point is the X-ray image of the elliptical galaxy NGC 4696 (from the Chandra X-ray Observatory), shown in blue and white above, superimposed on an infrared and radio image in red. Observations like this show that the gas that gets swallowed by the black hole goes into producing jets of high-energy particles, releasing a high percentage of the infalling material's rest energy.

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:25:30 EDT