>Shooting Messier 87 black hole jet

  • Posted on: 15 July 2019
  • By: tihomiry

For my last trip to the Rodopa mountain I decided to cross the limits and to target an object that is hard to believe that a non-professional equipment could catch.
I was impressed by the recently announced of direct radio image of M87 black hole. Messier 87 is a supergiant elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo, 53 million light-years. The jet is 5000 ly long and is so powerful that is compatitive in Britishness to the whole galaxy. There are a few optical images from Hubble space telescope, Chandra space telescope as well as some amateurs images in Astrobin. Wikipedia article
So I shoot M87 galaxy core and stack the images to come up with the jet from the super massive black hole at the center :O
I had to strip most of the frames as I am looking for perfectly tracked images in order to capture such a fine detail. For me this is the best shot I ever did :)
It is amazing that I got it with such a short integration time. The stack is only from 40 frames of 30s exposure. I recently got a autoguider but could not set it up
for that observations, so I had to keep high ISO 6400. However due to Pentax k5 ISO invariance it is possible to get high resolution with stack of a high ISO.
Shots are taken two consistent nights from locations 70 km apart. One is Vila Meandrite (Kara Tepe) and the other is the National Obseratory - Rozhen.
For that object it is same as to shoot at the same time from those 2 locations.
Shots are taken with 200mm - SW200pds newton telescope. I tested to use x3 magnification but the additional optics spoil the fine details so I preferred to shoot in direct focus and to crop the 16M image. The limitation here is the Earth athmosphere, so the sharper the image is the better.

This is how a good single frame crop looks like

This is the final stacked image:
M87 black hole

This is second process attempt with more frames - 55 and better suppression of the galactic core:
Messier 87 black hole Jet edit 2

I will proceed to target this object as I can get the colors of the jet with more frames and some more details if manage to have autoguiding. It is so amazing that you I can see a direct evidence of a block hole by myself.

Here is how it would looks shown on an artist representation


Nowadays we are so into the globalization and technologies, that I can submit observation plan to a remote, professional observatory at the other part of the word!

This is a comparison of my not modified Pentax k5 DSLR and the same, but modified one without IR-cut filter.

Astrotracer is a great way to take advantage of the Pentax DSLR camera in-body shake reduction mechanism. It is available since Pentax k5 and track celestial bodies by moving the sensor. Here is what is it ablout:

Staying at my home inspires me to make some documentation of my experience. I got a dedicated drive for my astrophotos and start reorganize them by objects. Here is an article of the most recent process I use on my photos. Enjoy: )

For a few months from now Betelgeuse (Alpha Orion) dim so much, that it looks as bright as the stars in the Orion belt. This is not so disturbing and does not mean that cataclysmic events are happening with it.