The sheer power and size of our part of the multiverse staggers the imagination, particularly when viewing a supermassive black hole doing its thing in a galaxy far far away.
On February 2, 2016, NASA released this image showing a spectacular jet emanating from a supermassive black hole in the center of the Pictor A galaxy, located nearly 500 million light-years from Earth. Material falling onto the black hole is driving an enormous beam, or jet, of particles traveling at nearly the speed of light into intergalactic space. The jet extends across 300,000 years toward a brilliant hotspot and a counter jet pointing in the opposite direction.
To obtain images of this jet, scientists used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory at various times over 15 years. Chandra’s X-ray data (blue) have been combined with radio data from the Australia Telescope Compact Array (red) in this new composite image.
The jet in Pictor A displays continuous X-ray emission over a distance of 300,000 light-years. By comparison, the entire Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years in diameter.
To give one the sheer enormity of this event, consider that one light year equals roughly 6 trillion miles. (365 X 186,000 miles/sec) Gives one pause doesn't it.