Jet-Launching Structure Resolved Near the Supermassive Black Hole in M87

Sheperd S. Doeleman1,2, Vincent L. Fish1, David E. Schenck1,3, Christopher Beaudoin1, Ray Blundell2, Geoffrey C. Bower4, Avery E. Broderick5,6, Richard Chamberlin7, Robert Freund3, Per Friberg8, Mark A. Gurwell2, Paul T. P. Ho9, Mareki Honma10,11, Makoto Inoue9, Thomas P. Krichbaum12, James Lamb13, Abraham Loeb2, Colin Lonsdale1, Daniel P. Marrone3, James M. Moran2, Tomoaki Oyama10, Richard Plambeck4, Rurik A. Primiani2, Alan E. E. Rogers1, Daniel L. Smythe1, Jason SooHoo1, Peter Strittmatter3, Remo P. J. Tilanus8,14, Michael Titus1, Jonathan Weintroub2, Melvyn Wright4, Ken H. Young2, Lucy M. Ziurys3


Approximately 10% of active galactic nuclei exhibit relativistic jets, which are powered by the accretion of matter onto supermassive black holes. Although the measured width profiles of such jets on large scales agree with theories of magnetic collimation, the predicted structure on accretion disk scales at the jet launch point has not been detected. We report radio interferometry observations, at a wavelength of 1.3 millimeters, of the elliptical galaxy M87 that spatially resolve the base of the jet in this source. The derived size of 5.5 ± 0.4 Schwarzschild radii is significantly smaller than the innermost edge of a retrograde accretion disk, suggesting that the M87 jet is powered by an accretion disk in a prograde orbit around a spinning black hole.

  1. 1MIT Haystack Obs ervatory, Off Route 40, Westford, MA 01886, USA.
  2. 2Harvard Smithson ian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
  3. 3Steward Observat ory, Arizona Radio Observatory, University of Arizona, 933 North Cherry Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85721\342\200\223 0065, USA.
  4. 4Department of As tronomy, University of California Berkeley, Hearst Field Annex, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
  5. 5Perimeter Instit ute, 31 Caroline Street, North Waterloo, Ontario N2L 2Y5, Canada.
  6. 6Department of Ph ysics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario N2l 3G1, Canada.
  7. 7Caltech Submilli meter Observatory, 111 Nowelo Street, Hilo, HI 96720, USA.
  8. 8James Clerk Maxw ell Telescope, Joint Astronomy Centre, 660 North A'ohoku Place University Park, Hilo, HI 96720, USA.
  9. 9Academia Sinica Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, 11F Astronomy-Mathematics Building, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Roosevelt Road, Section 4 Taipei 10617, Taiwan, R.O.C.
  10. 10National Astr onomical Observatory of Japan, 2-21-1 Osawa, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8588, Japan.
  11. 11The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Osawa, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8588, Japan.
  12. 12Max-Planck-In stitut f\303\274r Radioastronomie, Auf dem H\303\274gel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany.
  13. 13Owens Valley Radio Observatory, California Institute of Technology, 100 Leighton Lane, Big Pine, CA 93513\342\200\2230968 , USA.
  14. 14Netherlands O rganisation for Scientific Research, Laan van Nieuw Oost-Indie 300, NL2509 AC The Hague, Netherlands.