Astronomers have revealed a black hole explosion that stretches 16 times the length of the full Moon. It is approximately 12 million light-years away. 

The image, captured by the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope in Australia, shows radio emission from a supermassive black hole in the centre of Centaurus A.

Centaurus A lies at 12 million light-years away from our galaxy. It is also a close neighbor to the Milky Way.

According to scientists, the black hole supermassive at Centaurus A’s core emits enormous amounts radio energy and Xrays.  

When the black hole eats on infalling gas it emits material at almost light-speed. Radio bubbles then grow for many hundreds of millions of year.

Centaurus A is a giant elliptical active galaxy 12 million light-years away. At its heart lies a black hole with a mass of 55 million suns. This image shows the galaxy at radio wavelengths, revealing vast lobes of plasma that reach far beyond the visible galaxy, which occupies only a small patch at the centre of the image. The dots in the background are not stars, but radio galaxies much like Centaurus A, at far greater distances

Centaurus A lies 12 million light-years from Earth. It is an elliptical, giant active galaxy. It is home to a 55 million-sun mass black hole. This image depicts the galaxy at radio wavelengths. The vast plasma lobes extend beyond the visible galaxy. These are radio galaxies similar to Centaurus A at much greater distances, not stars.


Centaurus A, a radio galaxy located 13 million lightyears from Earth is called Centaurus A. 

It’s located in Centaurus constellation and is visible only from southern hemisphere or low northern latitudes. 

James Dunlop (Australia-based Scottish Astronomer) discovered the phenomenon for the first time on 1826. 

Because the galaxy is close to Earth, it has attracted a lot of attention in different resolutions. 

It is not clear whether this galaxy is a giant, elliptical or lenticular one.  

When viewed from Earth, the eruption from Centaurus A now extends eight degrees across the sky – the length of 16 full moons laid side by side.   

The centre of galaxies such as Centaurus A is home to supermassive black hole, which draws in gas and dust from the massive gravitational pull. 

This process releases massive amounts of energy and the galaxy is said to become ‘active’. Nearly all matter that lies close to the edge falls into the black hole. 

However, some particles are lost moments before being captured and are sent far into the distance at speeds close to the speed of light.

According to Dr Benjamin McKinley, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Perth (WA), the new image shows remarkable new details about the radio emission coming from the galaxies. 

He stated that the radio waves were caused by the material being sucked in to the black hole supermassive at the centre of the galaxy.

It forms a disc around a black hole. As the matter is ripped apart, it becomes closer to the black holes. On either side, strong jets create, which eject most of the material out of space to distances probably greater than one million light-years.

Centaurus A is a giant elliptical active galaxy 12 million light-years away. At its heart lies a black hole with a mass of 55 million suns. This composite image shows the galaxy and the surrounding intergalactic space at several different wavelengths. The radio plasma is displayed in blue and appears to be interacting with hot X-ray emitting gas (orange) and cold neutral hydrogen (purple). Clouds emitting Halpha (red) are also shown above the main optical part of the galaxy which lies in between the two brightest radio blobs. The 'background' is at optical wavelengths, showing stars in our own Milky Way that are actually in the foreground

Centaurus A lies 12 million light-years from Earth. It is an elliptical, giant active galaxy. The black hole at its center is 55 million solar masses. The composite image below shows both the intergalactic space and the galaxy at different wavelengths. Radio plasma, which is shown in blue, appears to interact with both hot X-ray emitting gaz (orange), and cold neutral hydrogen (purple). Also, clouds that emit Halpha (red), are shown over the main optical region of the galaxy. It lies between two most bright radio blobs. This background shows stars from our Milky Way in optical wavelengths.

When viewed from Earth, the eruption from Centaurus A now extends eight degrees across the sky - the length of 16 full Moons laid side by side. It was captured using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope in outback Western Australia. Tile 107, or 'the Outlier' as it is known, is one of 256 tiles of the MWA located 1.5km from the core of the telescope. The MWA is a precursor instrument to the SKA.

The eruption from CentaurusA now extends eight degrees from Earth. This is the same length as 16 full Moons stacked side-by side. This image was taken using the Murchison Widefield array (MWA), telescope located in Western Australia. Tile 107 is also known as ‘the Outlier’ and is one of the 256 tiles in the MWA, which is 1.5 km from the core. MWA is the precursor instrument for SKA.


These black holes can be found in the center of many galaxies. 

Their mass is millions to billions times that of the Sun. They are unable to escape light or even light. 

In the Milky Way the supermassive black hole is known as Sagittarius A*. 

A class of ultramassive dark holes is also available, which have a mass at least 10 times that of the son. 

You can find even more, some with 100 times the mass the sun. These black holes are called stupendously big. 

“Previous radio observations couldn’t handle the intense brightness of jets, and the details of larger areas surrounding the galaxy were blurred. But our new image surpasses all of these limitations. 

Centaurus A, the nearest radio galaxy to our Milky Way is Centaurus A.

“We can learn so much from Centaurus A, in particular, because it’s so close and can be seen in such detail,” Dr McKinley stated.

“Not only radio wavelengths, but all other wavelengths.

“In this research, we have been able combine radio observations with optical/x-ray data to better understand the physics behind these supermassive dark holes.” 

Centaurus A shines brighter at the center, where it’s more active and has a lot of energy.

‘Then it’s fainter as you go out because the energy’s been lost and things have settled down,” said Dr McKinley.

“But, there are fascinating features where charged particles are interacting strongly with magnetic fields and have been reaccelerated. 

Steven Tingay, MWA Director said that the telescope had a very wide field of view and was extremely sensitive. 

The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a low frequency radio telescope and is the first of four Square Kilometre Array (SKA) precursors to be completed. It allowed the team to dive deeper into the distance galaxy to uncover the secret

Murchison WidefieldArray (MWA), which is a low-frequency radio telescope, was the first of the Four Square Kilometre array (SKA), precursors. The team was able to explore the distant galaxy deeper to discover the secrets.

The MWA is a precursor for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a £1.5 billion observatory with telescopes in Western Australia and South Africa.

MWA is one of four official SKA precursor telescopes – instruments that provide information to help guide the SKA.

SKA’s precursor telescopes were created primarily to be engineering testing beds for future SKA.  

Dipole antennas of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope in Mid West Western Australia

Mid West Western Australia, Dipole antennas from the Murchison WidefieldArray (MWA), radio telescope

Prof. Tingay said that the SKA allows scientists to look at billions upon billions star systems, and to seek out technosignatures “in an astronomical sea of other planets”. 

‘The MWA is a precursor for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – a global initiative to build the world’s largest radio telescopes in Western Australia and South Africa,’ he said.

“The discovery potential for every MWA observation is high because of the large field of view, and consequently, the incredible amount of data that we have, thanks to which it can be collected,” says he. This makes it possible to take a huge step forward in the quest for a larger SKA. 

This new imagery is described further in Nature Astronomy’s paper.  


The Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a joint project between Australia and South Africa, will be the world’s largest radio telescope. 

It is more sensitive than the current radio telescope and will allow scientists to explore the universe with greater detail than ever before. 

It will be located in South Africa, Australia and the UK, while the international headquarters is located at Jodrell Bank in the UK. 

Nearly 200 middle-frequency dishes will be available in South Africa’s Karoo region. This includes the MeerKAT facility, which was inaugurated in July 2018. 

Artist's impression of the 3-mile (5km) diameter central core of Square Kilometre Array (SKA) antennas

Artist’s impression showing the central core measuring 3 miles (5 km) in Square Kilometre Array antennas

Western Australia will host around 130,000 low-frequency antennas.

The sites are very far away from radio frequency interference, which allows for sensitive measurements. 

SKA-low will house the antennas and dishes. 

The signals coming from the dishes are transmitted via optical fibre to an central computer. They will be combined by interferometry. 

The signals from all antennas will be combined into scientific data, which astronomers can use to study our universe. 

Source: UKRI