Clemson researchers capture first-ever photographic proof of power-packed jet emerging from colliding galaxies

CLEMSON — A team of Clemson University College of Science researchers, in collaboration with international colleagues, has reported the first definitive detection of a relativistic jet emerging from two colliding galaxies — in essence, the first photographic proof that merging galaxies can produce jets of charged particles that travel at nearly the speed of light.

Furthermore, scientists had previously discovered that these jets could be found in elliptical-shaped galaxies, which can be formed in the merging of two spiral galaxies. Now, they have an image showing the formation of a jet from two younger, spiral-shaped galaxies.

Others have already imaged galactic collisions many times. But he and his colleagues are the first to capture two galaxies merging where there is a fully formed jet pointing at us — albeit, a very young one, and thus not yet bright enough to blind us. The fact that the jet is so young enabled the researchers to clearly see its host. Typically, a jet emits light that is so powerful we can’t see the galaxy behind it.

Jets are the most powerful astrophysical phenomena in the universe. They can emit more energy into the universe in one second than our sun will produce in its entire lifetime. That energy is in the form of radiation, such as intense radio waves, X-rays, and gamma-rays.

Source: “Clemson researchers capture first-ever photographic proof of power-packed jet emerging from colliding galaxies” Clemson University, 7 April 2020.
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