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I was wondering if it is possible to capture the majority of the energy and matter from the jets of a quasar from a supermassive black hole?

The methods that I can think of is some sort of net like the scoop of a Bussard ramjet, that will create an electro magnetic field to attract charged particles, Something simple like solar panels could surround the area as another option and some sort of stellar lifting method surrounding the jet could be a method to collect the jets matter.

The are proposed quasar powered ships that involve shooting a particle beam into a black hole at the back of the ship with some sort of structure that extends to the sides of the black hole collecting the quasar energy to power the ship but this idea is for much smaller black holes and the idea of building a structure the size of supermassive black holes seems like a much harder task.

Edit: I got the quasar ship idea wrong, matter feeds in from side structures to the equator of the black hole and the quasar hits the back of the ship to propel it. All of the methods dont seem suited to the power of the jets of a feeding supermassive black holes but is there any method theoretically capable of harvesting as much of all the energy and matter as possible?

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    $\begingroup$ It's probably worth mentioning that you could make a Penrose mechanism if the black hole has angular momentum (which is very likely based on our current understanding of physics). These won't use the Astrophyical jets but it is theoretically a method of extracting energy from a black hole (or turning it into a giant bomb, if you're an evil galactic empire). $\endgroup$ – Crazymoomin Aug 10 '20 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Crazymoomin I was planning on using that method for non feeding black holes, it is a cool concept i need to work on more, plus the time dilation opens up cool story ideas. $\endgroup$ – user78658 Aug 10 '20 at 18:13
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Since supermassive black holes at the center of the galaxy are thought to be the power source for Quasars, the most powerful objects in the visible universe (visible across billions of years of space and time), this isn't going to be something you put together with parts in your backyard or the local hardware store.

The energetic environment is massive (which is why you want to tap it), with the central black hole surrounded by a huge accretion disc (radiating at frequencies from radio to x-ray), and highly charged jets of radiation and particles accelerated to near light speed

enter image description here

All this energy can be collected through means we understand today - the energetic radiation from an accretion disc can be captured by a massive dyson sphere or swarm, and the radiation jets can be funneled through superconducting rings to extract the kinetic energy of the particles, something like a particle accelerator run in reverse.

Of course this will be an immense undertaking, a small Quasar might be the same size as our solar system, while large ones might have diameters measured in light weeks. In addition to the thermal and radiation energy, any structure built around a rotating black hole will be subject to "frame dragging", as the immense gravity of the black hole warps space-time around itself. The structures erected to capture the energy of the jets will have to extend astronomical distances - some jets can extend as far as a million light years.

enter image description here

PKS 1127-145, a highly luminous source of X-rays and visible light about 10 billion light-years from Earth. An enormous X-ray jet extends at least a million light-years from the quasar.

The other thing to note is that peak quasar activity in the known universe was about 10 billion years ago. In the current era, most galactic centres have been "hollowed out" by the action of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy - either absorbing all the easily available matter or "blowing" a bubble around itself through the radiation and energy when it was active. A project to capture the energy of a quasar would need to find a nearby active quasar, or make some sort of arrangement to feed solar system sized masses of gas and other matter into an inactive black hole. obviously arrangments would have to be made to allow the infalling matter to pass through the structures erected to capture the energy.

Another pitfall is getting to the central black hole. In the Milkey Way galaxy, the central black hole is about 30,000 light years from our location. It would take 30,000 years moving at the speed of light just to get to the construction site, and assuming you beam the energy back to Earth via a laser, it will take 30,000 years for the beam to reach the receiver. Other Quasar are millions to billions of light years away - it might even turn out that when you reach the site of the Quasar 10 billion years from now, the site has become inactive, much like today's Milkey Way.

So while it is possible in theory to capture the energy of a Quasar, there are going to be a multitude of practical issues in doing so.

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  • $\begingroup$ Using rings is a visually pleasing idea compared to enclosing the beam and possible with a swarm of panels. Do you think rings is enough compared to full enclosure of the beam to lift enough matter, also could an end panel work that cuts the quasar off and collects the full beams force, if placed before the jet starts? $\endgroup$ – user78658 Aug 10 '20 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ The matter is already moving at close to light speed, and in a jet potentially millions of light years long, so it is difficult to envision a solid structure large enough to do the job. The same thing applies to a solid wall at the "end" - you could build a wall at the end of a train tunnel to stop the train, but how massive will it be? $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Aug 11 '20 at 22:52

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