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      Black hole lightning due to particle acceleration at subhorizon scales

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      Science

      American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

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          Abstract

          Supermassive black holes with masses of millions to billions of solar masses are commonly found in the centers of galaxies. Astronomers seek to image jet formation using radio interferometry but still suffer from insufficient angular resolution. An alternative method to resolve small structures is to measure the time variability of their emission. Here we report on gamma-ray observations of the radio galaxy IC 310 obtained with the MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov) telescopes, revealing variability with doubling time scales faster than 4.8 min. Causality constrains the size of the emission region to be smaller than 20% of the gravitational radius of its central black hole. We suggest that the emission is associated with pulsar-like particle acceleration by the electric field across a magnetospheric gap at the base of the radio jet.

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          Most cited references 58

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          Electromagnetic extraction of energy from Kerr black holes

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            Particle acceleration at astrophysical shocks: A theory of cosmic ray origin

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              Relativistic jets as compact radio sources

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Science
                Science
                American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
                0036-8075
                1095-9203
                November 27 2014
                November 28 2014
                November 28 2014
                November 06 2014
                : 346
                : 6213
                : 1080-1084
                10.1126/science.1256183
                © 2014

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