Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Good news from big bad black holes

11.01.2005


Astronomers have discovered how ominous black holes can create life in the form of new stars, proving that jet-induced star formation may have played an important role in the formation of galaxies in the early universe.


This false-color image incorporates infrared data (invisible to the human eye). The blue regions (essentially the whole of Minkowski’s Object) show enhanced star formation. The red background galaxy and two red foreground stars appear in sharp contrast. The red overlay is the radio jet.


Using the Near Infrared Camera (NIRC) at the Keck Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope, this false-color image incorporates infrared data (invisible to the human eye) and does not include the radio jet.



This false-color image incorporates infrared data (invisible to the human eye). The blue regions (essentially the whole of Minkowski’s Object) show enhanced star formation. The red background galaxy and two red foreground stars appear in sharp contrast. The red overlay is the radio jet. Click here for high-resolution image.

Using the Very Large Array (VLA) at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in New Mexico, the Keck telescopes in Hawaii and the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers Wil van Breugel and Steve Croft have shown that "Minkowski’s Object," a peculiar starburst system in the NGC 541 radio galaxy, formed when a radio jet – undetectable in visible light but revealed by radio observations– emitted from a black hole collided with dense gas.


The researchers carried out the observations after computer simulations at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory by Chris Fragile, Peter Anninos and Stephen Murray had shown that jets may trigger the collapse of interstellar clouds and induce star formation.

The astronomers will present their findings today at the American Astronomical Society 205th national meeting, in San Diego, Calif. "Some 20 years ago this kind of thinking was thought to be science fiction," said van Breugel, who along with Croft works at the Laboratory’s Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics. "It brings poetic justice to black holes because we think of them as sucking things in, but we’ve shown that when a jet emits from a black hole, it can bring new life by collapsing clouds and creating new stars."

Radio jets are formed when material falls into massive black holes. Magnetic fields around the black holes accelerate electrons to almost the speed of light. These electrons are then propelled out in narrow jets and radiate at radio frequencies because of their motion in the magnetic fields. The jets may affect the formation of stars when they collide with dense gas.

Using the Near Infrared Camera (NIRC) at the Keck Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope, this false-color image incorporates infrared data (invisible to the human eye) and does not include the radio jet. Click here for high-resolution image. But only recently have van Breugel and Croft figured out how this happens. The regions between stars in a galaxy are filled with mainly gas and dust, and are commonly called the interstellar medium. The gas appears primarily in two forms as cold clouds of atomic or molecular hydrogen or as hot ionized hydrogen near young stars.

In the case of the recent discovery, the Livermore researchers observed that when a radio jet ran into a hot dense hydrogen medium in NGC 541, the medium started to cool down and formed a large neutral hydrogen cloud and, in turn, triggered star formation. Although the cloud did not emit visible radiation, it was detected by its radio frequency emission. "The formation of massive black holes is critical to the formation of new galaxies," Croft said.

Van Breugel, who has been studying black holes since his days as a postdoctoral fellow more than 20 years ago, said the recent observations are another good reason to study the relationship between black holes and early galaxies. He said the conditions his team saw in NGC 541 may be important in understanding the formation of galaxies in the early universe. "Our observations show that jets from black holes can trigger extra star formation. In the early universe this process may be important because the galaxies are still young, with lots of hydrogen gas but few stars, and the black holes are more active," he said.

According to the big bang theory, the universe is believed to have originated approximately 13.5 billion years ago from a cosmic explosion that hurled matter in all directions. Although van Breugel and Croft observed the jets by using the VLA, Keck and Hubbel images, they also said that the Livermore computer simulations by Fragile, Anninos and Murray were crucial to verify that this is happening.

NGC 541 is approximately 216 million light years from Earth and is roughly half the size of the Milky Way.

In addition to van Breugel and Croft, other collaborators on the project include W. de Vries, UC Davis; J. H. van Gorkom, Columbia University; R. Morganti and T. Osterloo, ASTRON, Netherlands; M. Dopita, Australian National University; C. Fragile, UC Santa Barbara; and Anninos and Murray, LLNL.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Anne Stark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.llnl.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers
20.09.2017 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices
19.09.2017 | Graphene Flagship

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: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>