Supermassive black holes, notorious for ripping apart and swallowing stars, might also help seed interstellar space with the elements necessary for life, such as hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and iron, scientists say.
Using NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESAs XMM-Newton satellite, scientists at Penn State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found evidence of high-speed winds blowing away copious amounts of gas from the cores of two quasar galaxies, which are thought to be powered by black holes.
"The winds we measured imply that as much as a billion suns worth of material is blown away over the course of a quasars lifetime," said George Chartas of the Penn State Astronomy and Astrophysics Department, who led the observations. The winds might also regulate black hole growth and spur the creation of new stars, according to the science team, which includes Niel Brandt and Gordon Garmire of Penn State and Sarah Gallagher of MIT.
Barbara K. Kennedy | EurekAlert!
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