An object located 656 million light-years from Earth, which had previously been classified as a standard radio galaxy, is actually something else: It has a monstrous supermassive black hole, emitting a jet of plasma that is now pointing straight inward. . at relativistic speeds ranging from 95% to 99% of the speed of light. This condition transforms him into a blazar, one of the most intense sources of energy that exist in the cosmos.

An international team of astronomers has discovered the profound change a galaxy called PBC J2333.9-2343 has undergone due to unique activity taking place within its core. Formerly classified as a conventional radio galaxy, new research recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society shows that this galaxy, located approximately 656 million light-years away from our planet, is actually home to a blazar that emits a powerful jet. plasma relativistic. Emissions have changed direction and are now pointing directly at Earth.

a drastic change

He relativistic jet of PBC J2333.9-2343 It poses no risk to our planet, but it does force a change in scientists’ concept of this object and could shed light on the mysterious blazars. “We started to study this galaxy because it had peculiar properties. Our hypothesis was that the relativistic jet from its supermassive black hole had changed direction, and to confirm this idea we had to make many observations,” said Dr. Lorena Hernández-García of the University of Valparaíso in a press release in Chile , lead author of the new study.

Astronomers now know that PBC J2333.9-2343 is actually a giant radio galaxy 4 million light-years across and has an active galactic nucleus (AGN) with a relativistic jet, responsible for plasma emissions traveling at speeds close to the speed of light.

This relativistic jet, also known as a “jet & rdquor;, born in the center of supermassive black hole in the galaxy, which when active “swallows & rdquor; permanently new stellar material, which accumulates in the surrounding accretion disk. Part of this material is expelled to different parts of the Universe, with an enormous force that is observed in very few cosmic phenomena.

Research has revealed that the plasma jet from PBC J2333.9-2343 has drastically changed its direction at an angle of up to 90 degrees, turning to point directly at us. This characteristic makes it a blazar and modifies the conception that specialists had until today about this distant object.

Powerful energy emissions

The “jet” of the blazar is composed of charged elementary particles, such as electrons or protons., which move at speeds of up to 99% of the speed of light. They move in circles around a strong magnetic field, causing the emission of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum. In PBC J2333.9-2343, the relativistic jet originates close to the supermassive black hole located at its center.

To unravel the mysteries of this strange galaxy, scientists had to observe it in a wide range of wavelengths. PBC J2333.9-2343 has been observed with radio, optical, infrared, X-ray, ultraviolet and gamma-ray telescopes. Although changes in the direction of relativistic blazar jets have been observed in the past, This is the first time such a drastic variation has been observed..

Astronomers believe that the phenomenon may have been caused by a merger event with another galaxy or any other relatively large object, or due to a strong burst of activity in the galactic core after a long period of inactivity.


Multi-wavelength monitoring of the core in PBC J2333.9-2343: the giant radio galaxy with a blazar-like core. L Hernández-García et al. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2023). DOI: