RadioAstron observations of the extremely hot heart of quasar 3C 273
The results are published in the current issue of the "The Astrophysical Journal".
Supermassive black holes, containing millions to billions times the mass of our Sun, reside at the centers of all massive galaxies. These black holes can drive powerful jets that emit prodigiously, often outshining all the stars in their host galaxies. But there is a limit to how bright these jets can be – when electrons get hotter than about 100 billion degrees, they interact with their own emission to produce X-rays and Gamma-rays and quickly cool down.
Johnson, Michael D.; Kovalev, Yuri Y.; Gwinn, Carl R.; Gurvits, Leonid I.; Narayan, Ramesh; Macquart, Jean-Pierre; Jauncey, David L.; Voitsik, Peter A.; Anderson, James M.; Sokolovsky, Kirill V.; Lisakov, Mikhail M., The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 820, Issue 1, article id. L10, 6 pp. (2016).
The Spektr-R antenna of RadioAstron is at an elliptical orbit around Earth reaching a maximum apogee distance of 350,000 km which would result in a virtual radio telescope of up to 27 times the Earth’s diameter.