Hercules A (Galaxy 3C 348)

Location:  Constellation Hercules
Coordinates:  16 51 08.2 +04 59 33
Accepted distance: 2,000,000,000 ly

Mainstream description
Active galaxy that in visible light (colored red, green and blue, with most objects appearing white) looks like a typical elliptical galaxy. In X-ray light, however, a giant cloud of multimillion-degree gas (purple) is detected. This gas has been heated by energy generated by the infall of matter into a black hole at the center of the galaxy that is over 1,000 times as massive as the one in the middle of the Milky Way. Radio data (blue) show jets of particles streaming away from the black hole. The jets span a length of over one-and-a-half million light years.  The physics that creates the jets remains a topic of research with a likely energy source being the infalling matter swirling toward the central black hole.

Alternative description
Two large-scale Birkeland currents are bound tightly together and rotating as one body.  The powerful rotating magnetic field generated between the two streams of plasma accelerates charged particles to subluminal speeds and in opposite directions.  These opposing jets of plasma emit radio waves while synchrotron radiation in the form of X-rays is emitted radially along its axis of rotation.  The object’s high redshift is due to photons traveling through a hot, sparse electron plasma.

Hercules A (Galaxy 3C 348)Shannon Sims