Astronomers have released a new photo of a massive black hole in the center of the galaxy Messier 87 (M87), which is located 55 million light-years from Earth. The new image provides a better view of the magnetic fields.

In the study, which was published in two articles in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, astronomers revisited the data archive of the first image and analyzed the movement of polarized light around an object.

The M87 supermassive black hole in polarised light
The M87 supermassive black hole in polarised light | Image: The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)

Light waves usually vibrate in different directions, but magnetic fields can polarize them, and this vibration is limited to one linear plane. Astronomers explain that due to the polarization of light, they can improve the image of a black hole. In particular, they can better see the magnetic fields at the inner edges of the object.

Scientists say the new image is important for understanding how the magnetic field allows a black hole to eat up cosmic material and throw matter into the universe. Most of the matter that lies close to the edge of the black hole gets inside. However, some particles manage to escape at the last moment and enter space like jets.

By studying how magnetic fields work, scientists can better understand how matter behaves around a black hole.

The Black Hole in the Center of Our Galaxy Is Closer to Earth
The new data was discovered thanks to a Japanese radio astronomy project VERA. It has been gathering data from telescopes across Japan for the last 15 years.

Scientists released the first photo of a black hole in 2019. Subsequently, they received three million dollars for this picture.

The image was taken thanks to the global interferometric network of Event Horizon Telescope observatories. It was presented simultaneously by astronomers from the USA, Belgium, Japan, Denmark, China, Chile, and Taiwan.

Subsequently, the photographed black hole received the name Pōwehi. It is a Hawaiian word meaning "dark source adorned by endless creation."