We Finally Have Evidence That Black Holes Drive Winds Shaping Their Entire Galaxy

This is so epic!

Black holes can be really weird, but very mysterious at the same time. It looks like we’ll never be able to unravel all of their puzzles. The following one is fantastic though – the very first evidence that actually black holes at galactic cores are actively shaping their environments. This was, of course, suspected in the past – but now it is confirmed by science for the first time.

The way they do it is really amazing: they’re generating powerful winds that blow far and wide. This actually means that the influence that is exerted by black holes is reaching much farther than expected.

There were previous studies in the past that were suggesting that these winds are actually powerful enough to spread throughout entire galaxies and can actually suppress the formation of new stars across that region.

This study is a bit more relevant from the rest because it marks the very first time this phenomenon has been observed.

“Supermassive black holes are captivating,” said the astrophysicist Shelley Wright.

“Understanding why and how galaxies are affected by their supermassive black holes is an outstanding puzzle in their formation.”

Since no light escapes it, the black hole itself can’t really be seen, but it is located in the centre of a large accretion disc of dust and gas that swirls around the black hole at very extreme speeds.

This is how friction and heat are generated, which of course, results with immense light. Actually, quasars are some of the brightest objects in the whole universe!

So, the image above shows how the green colours highlights the energetic gas across the galaxy that is actually illuminated by the quasar, and the blue colour is representing the strong winds that are blowing throughout the galaxy.

Maybe you’ve guessed that the black hole is that orange-boarder bright circle around the middle of the picture.

The team of scientists has used the data from the Atacama Large Millimeter Array and the Keck Observatory’s infrared spectrographs OSIRIS and they’ve found out that it actually has one hundred times less mass than it was first expected, given the size of its black hole.

When pieces of the puzzles were put together, the team of scientists realized that this actually indicates that the black hole was formed and established well some time before the galaxy coalesced around it.

Of course, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. It is still unclear how actually stellar formation can occur, having in mind that the quasar’s winds removed most of the necessary gas that is present in the galaxy. Also, we need to know if quasar galaxies can be included in the scaling models that are used for nearby galaxies.

“Each new dataset that we obtained on this galaxy answered one question and helped us put some of the pieces of the puzzle together.

“However, at the same time, it created new questions about the nature of galaxy and supermassive black hole formation.”


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