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A Supermassive Black Hole Nourishes Baby Stars Far, Far Away
Supermassive black holes are mysterious creatures that lurk hungrily in the hearts of probably every large galaxy in the observable Universe, where they hide in ominous, voracious secrecy, waiting for their dinner to come swirling down to their waiting maws. These infalling buffets may consist of destroyed stars, clouds of disrupted gas, or any other unfortunate celestial object that has been ravaged by the gravitational clutches of the supermassive black hole. Once a condemned object has passed the fatal point of no return, referred to as the event horizon, it can never return from the cave of this gravitational beast, and it is lost to the rest of the Universe forever. But, despite their bad reputation for being ruthlessly destructive, one supermassive black hole that haunts the heart of a galaxy far, far away has shown itself to have a nurturing character. This object has a mother’s heart, and assists in the birth of bright new baby stars that are more than one million light years away. One light year equals 6 a trillion miles
The discovery of this maternal heart of darkness, which managed to ignite the births of stars over a mental distance — as well as across several galaxies — was made by astronomers using the NASA. Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes. If confirmed, the black hole would represent the widest reach ever observed for such an object behaving like a nurturing stellar mother, triggering star birth. This mother heart of darkness actually enhanced star formation.
“This is the first time we’ve seen a single black hole accelerate star birth in more than one galaxy at the same time. It’s amazing to think that one galaxy’s black hole can speak to what’s happening in other galaxies millions of trillions of miles away. away. ,” commented Dr. Roberto Gilli on November 26, 2019 Chandra Observatory press release. Dr. Gilli is from the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) in Bologna, Italy, and is lead author of the study describing the discovery.
Said the Crow, “Never again”
Supermassive black holes are greedy creatures that weigh millions to billions of times the mass of our Sun. Our own Milky Way Galaxy hosts just such a gravitational beast that resides in its secretive heart. Our resident supermassive black hole is named Sagittarius A*and as supermassive animals go, it is of relatively low mass. Sagittarius A* (pronounced know-a-star) weighs “mere” millions–as opposed to billions–of solar masses. The dark heart of our Milky Way is quiet now. It’s an old beast, and it wakes up only occasionally to feast on an unfortunate celestial object that has wandered too close to where it awaits. Although it is mostly inactive when both Sagittarius A* and the Universe was young, it ate greedily, and looked brightly, as a quasar Quasars are the brilliantly brilliant growth discs surrounding active supermassive black holes haunting the centers of galaxies.
Despite their misleading name, black holes are not just empty space. Actually, they come in more than one size. In addition to the supermassive variety, there are stellar-mass black holes, which form when an extremely massive star exhausts its necessary supply of nuclear fusion fuel and violently explodes as a core-collapse (Type II) supernova. The gravitational collapse of an especially massive star heralds its natural “death”. When a doomed heavy star has no more nuclear fusion fuel to burn, it has reached the end of the star’s path. Nuclear-fusion inside a still-“living” rioting, roasting, bright star, creates radiation pressure which tries to push all the stellar material outward. In the meantime the star’s own gravity tries to pull everything in. This creates a delicate balance that keeps a star bouncing. Alas, when a giant, massive star runs out of fuel, and contains a heavy iron-nickel core, it can no longer exert pressure. Gravity wins in the end. The star’s core collapses and it goes supernova. Where once there was a star, there is no longer a star.
Astronomers have also found convincing evidence of the existence of intermediate mass black holes which weigh less than their supermassive relatives, but more than their stellar-mass “relatives”. Squeeze enough mass into a small enough space and a black hole will form every time. Some scientists have proposed that these medium mass objects met each other and merged in the early Cosmos. Therefore, it has been suggested that they acted as the “seeds” that created the supermassive black holes that haunt the mysterious hearts of most, if not all, large galaxies, including our own.
The Milky Way’s resident supermassive black hole is not a lonely gravitational beast. Sagittarius A* has a lot of company. Indeed, theoretical studies indicate that a large population of stellar-mass black holes–perhaps as many as 20,000–could trip up the fantastic light around our own Galaxy’s resident central black hole. A study published in 2018, which was based on data obtained from Chandra, suggests the existence of a treasure trove of stellar mass black holes haunting the core of our Milky Way.
Some current theories propose that supermassive black holes already existed in the ancient Universe. During that very early epoch, clouds of gas and doomed stars swirled around and then down into the waiting, greedy, gravity-grabbing claws of the hungry beast, never again upon returning from the violently swirling maelstrom surrounding this bizarre creature. As the trapped, doomed material swirled to its inevitable demise, it formed a brilliant, violent storm of conspicuous material around the black hole—its. accretion disk (quasar). As this bright and fiery material grew hotter and hotter, it spewed forth a furious storm of radiation — especially as it traveled ever closer to the event horizon which is the point of no return.
In the 18th century, John Michell and Pierre-Simon Laplace proposed the possibility that there could really exist in nature such insults to our Earth-developed common sense as black holes. In 1915, Albert Einstein, in his General Theory of Relativity, predicted the existence of objects carrying such powerful gravitational fields that anything unfortunate enough to wander too close to their pull would be consumed. However, this concept seemed so outrageous at the time that Einstein rejected his own idea – even though his calculations proclaimed otherwise.
In 1916, the physicist Karl Schwarzschild formulated the first modern solution to General Relativity who described a black hole. However, its interpretation as an area of Spacetime, of which absolutely nothing could escape once captured, was not adequately understood until nearly half a century later. Until that time, these gravitational beasts were considered to be only mathematical oddities. Finally, in the middle of the 20th century, theoretical physicists were able to demonstrate that these strange children of Mother Nature represent a general prediction of General Relativity.
A Mother Black Hole With A Midian Touch
The supermassive black hole resides at the center of a galaxy approximately 9.9 billion light-years from Earth. The galaxy is in the company of at least seven neighboring galaxies, according to observations made with the The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT).
Using the National Science Foundation’s (NSA) Jansky Very Large Array., astronomers previously discovered radio-wave emission coming from a jet of high-energy particles that is approximately one million light-years in length. The jet can be traced back to the feeding supermassive black hole, which Chandra detected as a powerful source of X-rays. The X-rays are created by hot gas swirling around the supermassive black hole. Dr. Gilli and his colleagues also spotted a diffuse cloud of X-ray emission surrounding one end of the radio jet. This x-ray emission probably originates from a huge gas bubble heated by the dance performed by the energetic particles in the jet with surrounding matter.
As the blazing hot bubble expanded and invaded the neighboring galaxies, it may have compressed the cool gas in these galactic neighbors. This would give birth to glowing baby stars. All of the galaxies in question reside at roughly the same distance—about 400,000 light years—away from the center of the expanding bubble. The scientists calculate that the rate of star birth is between two and five times greater than typical galaxies with similar masses and distance from our planet.
“The story of King Midas speaks of his magic touch that can turn metal into gold. Here we have a case of a black hole that helped turn gas into stars, and its reach is intergalactic,” commented study co-author Dr. Marco Mignoli. on November 26, 2019 Chandra Press Release. Dr. Mignoli is also from the INAF
Astronomers have observed many cases where a black hole affects its environment through “negative feedback.” This means that they often observed a sinister black hole in the act of preventing the formation of new stars. This can happen when the jets emitted by the black hole send so much energy into the blazing hot gas of a galaxy — or cluster of galaxies — that the gas cannot cool enough to form large numbers of baby stars. Although it may seem to defy common sense, things have to cool down before a hot baby star can be born.
“Black holes have a well-deserved reputation for being powerful and deadly, but not always. This is a prime example that they sometimes defy that stereotype and can be fed instead,” commented co-author Alessandro Peca in the book. Chandra Press Release. Peca, formerly of the INAFis currently a doctoral student at the University of Miami.
The astronomers used a total of six days of Chandra observation time spread over a five-month period.
“It is only because of this very deep observation that we have seen the hot gas bubble produced by the black hole. By targeting objects similar to this one, we can discover that positive feedback is very common in the formation of groups and clusters of galaxies.” noted co-author Dr. Colin Norman in the Chandra Press Release. Dr. Norman is from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
An article describing these results was published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
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