Hey folks. The Andromeda’s monumentally powerful, light eating, time and space bending, supermassive black hole has created a weird formation in the galaxy’s nucleus.
According to pictures taken by Hubble the singularity is encircled by a blue halo of fast orbiting young stars and around that is a red disc older stars. I’ve set Big Amateur Telescope the daunting task of trying to take a picture of this event.
Andromeda gives us the best viewing angle of the universe’s most mind bending phenomenon. Although our milky way’s super massive black hole (SMBH) is a mere 27,000 light years away its very hard to see because there is so much interstellar dust blocking our view. A classic case of not being able to see the wood for the trees. I expected that the region surrounding Andromeda’s Supermassive black hole would be even harder to see because its in another galaxy and therefore millions of times further away than our own. Turns out I was wrong. Its well known that our galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy are on a collision course but its less well known that the outermost part of our galaxy is touching the outermost part of the Andromeda galaxy. And that means Andromeda’s supermassive black hole is much closer than I thought. Its just 100 times further away from earth than our own supermassive black hole. I think is mad. The advantage of looking at Andromdea’s SMBH is that we can look down on it from above. It’s a bit like we’ve jumped into a helicopter and can now see the wood because we’re above the trees.
Resolving the blue halo from earth would require the atmosphere to be exceptionally calm. The red disc is probably in our grasp and of course, we’ll be able to see what’s surrounding the red disc and what’s surrounding that as well which is exciting because most pictures of Andromeda fail to render any detail in this area because the core is so bright. (above is one of my favourite amateur pics of Andromeda – shot By Deddy probably from the desert in Israel. The detail and grade is fantastic. I hope we can use lucky imaging techniques to get significantly more detail and see much more of what is going on in the blown out core.)
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Infra red data gathered with 4.5 inch refractor
This image shot has had the stars that get in the way from our galaxy removed. It looks like someone has pulled the plug and everything is spiralling inwards towards the super massive black hole but in reality the gas and dust and stars do much more orbiting around the SMBH than falling into it.
It’s early days but so far Weas1974 and Fugxd have been getting some really nice regular data with their relatively small scopes (I believe the following are shot with a 4.5 inch refractor).
Blue data gathered with 4.5 inch refractor
This shot is the same FOV but shooting with a blue filter. You can see the blue light is concentrated around the core.
The shots above give us BATs our first glimpse of the beautiful and complex patterns in the core. I’m hoping if we get lots more images like the ones above we will be able to reveal even more structure. At first glance it seems that even this modest refractor has done pretty well when compared to Hubble …
… but the devil is in the detail. Hubble’s professional nerds are able to reveal much more in the burnt out core of the galaxy and unfortunately a small refractor doesn’t have the necessary resolving power to compete…
Seems like resolving the blue halo and red disc is far beyond our ability. And yet with lucky imaging techniques and larger telescopes us amateurs can resolve detail in Jupiter’s red spot. So I’m hoping that as well as the regular imagers me (and Big Bertha) and fingers crossed a bunch of other Big Amateur Telescope members will get out their big scopes and lucky image this target
Even Mr Crazy Physicist who’s not one to over egg the situation (like wot I am!) believes we stand a good chance of getting the red disc…
I’m more optimistic. I think that if we get enough lucky imagers with nice big 10-16inch Newtonians lucky imaging this target then it might be possible to get a hint of the blue halo when we use deconvolution techniques in post. That is a big if though. Not many BAT members have successfully lucky imaged. In fact I could count the number on one hand. Hopefully our luck will change😁
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me and big bertha
Word on the street is that I’m going to sell big bertha to pay for an even bigger scope – let me know if you’re interested! I’m not yet rich and famous so this isn’t a giveaway.