Using Chandra, scientists surveyed a sample of clusters and counted the fraction of galaxies with rapidly growing supermassive black holes, known as active galactic nuclei (or AGN). The data show, for the first time, that younger, more distant galaxy clusters contained far more AGN than older, nearby ones.
Galaxy clusters are some of the largest structures in the Universe, consisting of many individual galaxies, a few of which contain AGN. Earlier in the history of the universe, these galaxies contained a lot more gas for star formation and black hole growth than galaxies in clusters do today. This fuel allows the young cluster black holes to grow much more rapidly than their counterparts in nearby clusters.
"The black holes in these early clusters are like piranha in a very well-fed aquarium," said Jason Eastman of Ohio State University (OSU) and first author of this study. "It's not that they beat out each other for food, rather there was so much that all of the piranha were able to really thrive and grow quickly."
The team used Chandra to determine the fraction of AGN in four different galaxy clusters at large distances, when the Universe was about 58% of its current age. Then they compared this value to the fraction found in more nearby clusters, those about 82% of the Universe's current age.
The result was the more distant clusters contained about 20 times more AGN than the less distant sample. AGN outside clusters are also more common when the Universe is younger, but only by factors of two or three over the same age span.
"It's been predicted that there would be fast-track black holes in clusters, but we never had good evidence until now," said co-author Paul Martini, also of OSU. "This can help solve a couple of mysteries about galaxy clusters."
One mystery is why there are so many blue, star-forming galaxies in young, distant clusters and fewer in nearby, older clusters. AGN are believed to expel or destroy cool gas in their host galaxy through powerful eruptions from the black hole. This may stifle star formation and the blue, massive stars will then gradually die off, leaving behind only the old, redder stars. This process takes about a billion years or more to take place, so a dearth of star-forming galaxies is only noticeable for older clusters.
The process that sets the temperature of the hot gas in clusters when they form is also an open question. These new results suggest that even more AGN may have been present when most clusters were forming about ten billion years ago. Early heating of a cluster by large numbers of AGN can have a significant, long-lasting effect on the structure of a cluster by "puffing up" the gas.
"In a few nearby clusters we've seen evidence for huge eruptions generated by supermassive black holes. But this is sedate compared to what might be going on in younger clusters," said Eastman.
Megan Watzke | EurekAlert!
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy