Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Black Hole Caught Zapping Galaxy into Existence?

30.11.2009
Which come first, the supermassive black holes that frantically devour matter or the enormous galaxies where they reside? A brand new scenario has emerged from a recent set of outstanding observations of a black hole without a home: black holes may be “building” their own host galaxy. This could be the long-sought missing link to understanding why the masses of black holes are larger in galaxies that contain more stars.

“The ‘chicken and egg’ question of whether a galaxy or its black hole comes first is one of the most debated subjects in astrophysics today,” says lead author David Elbaz. “Our study suggests that supermassive black holes can trigger the formation of stars, thus ‘building’ their own host galaxies. This link could also explain why galaxies hosting larger black holes have more stars.”

To reach such an extraordinary conclusion, the team of astronomers conducted extensive observations of a peculiar object, the nearby quasar HE0450-2958 (see ESO PR 23/05 for a previous study of this object), which is the only one for which a host galaxy has not yet been detected [1]. HE0450-2958 is located some 5 billion light-years away.

Until now, it was speculated that the quasar’s host galaxy was hidden behind large amounts of dust, and so the astronomers used a mid-infrared instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope for the observations [2]. At such wavelengths, dust clouds shine very brightly, and are readily detected. “Observing at these wavelengths would allow us to trace dust that might hide the host galaxy,” says Knud Jahnke, who led the observations performed at the VLT. “However, we did not find any. Instead we discovered that an apparently unrelated galaxy in the quasar’s immediate neighbourhood is producing stars at a frantic rate.”

These observations have provided a surprising new take on the system. While no trace of stars is revealed around the black hole, its companion galaxy is extremely rich in bright and very young stars. It is forming stars at a rate equivalent to about 350 Suns per year, one hundred times more than rates for typical galaxies in the local Universe.

Earlier observations had shown that the companion galaxy is, in fact, under fire: the quasar is spewing a jet of highly energetic particles towards its companion, accompanied by a stream of fast-moving gas. The injection of matter and energy into the galaxy indicates that the quasar itself might be inducing the formation of stars and thereby creating its own host galaxy; in such a scenario, galaxies would have evolved from clouds of gas hit by the energetic jets emerging from quasars.

“The two objects are bound to merge in the future: the quasar is moving at a speed of only a few tens of thousands of km/h with respect to the companion galaxy and their separation is only about 22 000 light-years,” says Elbaz. “Although the quasar is still ‘naked’, it will eventually be ‘dressed’ when it merges with its star-rich companion. It will then finally reside inside a host galaxy like all other quasars.”

Hence, the team have identified black hole jets as a possible driver of galaxy formation, which may also represent the long-sought missing link to understanding why the mass of black holes is larger in galaxies that contain more stars [3].

“A natural extension of our work is to search for similar objects in other systems,” says Jahnke.

Future instruments, such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, the European Extremely Large Telescope and the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope will be able to search for such objects at even larger distances from us, probing the connection between black holes and the formation of galaxies in the more distant Universe.

Notes
[1] Supermassive black holes are found in the cores of most large galaxies; unlike the inactive and starving one sitting at the centre of the Milky Way, a fraction of them are said to be active, as they eat up enormous amounts of material. These frantic actions produce a copious release of energy across the whole electromagnetic spectrum; particularly spectacular is the case of quasars, where the active core is so overwhelmingly bright that it outshines the luminosity of the host galaxy.

[2] This part of the study is based on observations performed at mid-infrared wavelengths, with the powerful VLT spectrometer and imager for the mid-infrared (VISIR) instrument at the VLT, combined with additional data including: spectra acquired using VLT-FORS, optical and infrared images from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and radio observations from the Australia Telescope National Facility.

[3] Most galaxies in the local Universe contain a supermassive black hole with a mass about 1/700th the mass of the stellar bulge. The origin of this black hole mass versus stellar mass relation is one of the most debated subjects in modern astrophysics.
More Information
This research was presented in papers published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics: “Quasar induced galaxy formation: a new paradigm?” by Elbaz et al., and in the Astrophysical Journal “The QSO HE0450-2958: Scantily dressed or heavily robed? A normal quasar as part of an unusual ULIRG” by Jahnke et al.
The team is composed of David Elbaz (Service d’Astrophysique, CEA Saclay, France), Knud Jahnke (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), Eric Pantin (Service d’Astrophysique, CEA Saclay, France), Damien Le Borgne (Paris University 6 and CNRS, Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, France) and Géraldine Letawe (Institut d'Astrophysique et de Géophysique, Université de Liège, Belgium).

ESO, the European Southern Observatory, is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive astronomical observatory. It is supported by 14 countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory. ESO is the European partner of a revolutionary astronomical telescope ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. ESO is currently planning a 42-metre European Extremely Large optical/near-infrared Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

Dr. Henri Boffin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/press-rel/pr-2009/pr-46-09.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

nachricht NASA's fermi finds possible dark matter ties in andromeda galaxy
22.02.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>