21/09/2011 16:44 BST | Updated 21/11/2011 10:12 GMT

Nasa: Black Hole's Flaring Jet

Nasa's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer has captured data of a black hole's flaring jet, re-created here in an artist's interpretation.

20,000 light-years away from Earth, this black hole is near the center of our galaxy and has a mass at least six times greater than the sun. Black holes are ultra-dense collections of matter, with gravity so great that not even light can escape.

Peter Eisenhardt, the project scientist for WISE at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said: "To see bright flaring activity from a black hole you need to be looking at the right place at the right time," said "WISE snapped sensitive infrared pictures every 11 seconds for a year, covering the whole sky, allowing it to catch this rare event."

The data behind this image allows astronomers to make the best measurements yet of the black hole's magnetic field, which Nasa says is 30,000 times more powerful than that generated by Earth at its surface.