Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Black Hole Growth Found to be Out of Synch

13.06.2012
New evidence from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory challenges prevailing ideas about how supermassive black holes grow in the centers of galaxies.

Astronomers long have thought that a supermassive black hole and the bulge of stars at the center of its host galaxy grow at the same rate -- the bigger the bulge, the bigger the black hole. A new study of Chandra data has revealed two nearby galaxies whose supermassive black holes are growing faster than the galaxies themselves.


Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/A.Bogdan et al; Infrared: 2MASS/UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF

The mass of a giant black hole at the center of a galaxy typically is a tiny fraction (about 0.2 percent) of the mass contained in the bulge, or region of densely packed stars, surrounding it. The targets of the latest Chandra study, galaxies NGC 4342 and NGC 4291, have black holes that are 10 times to 35 times more massive than they should be compared to their bulges. The new observations with Chandra show that the halos, or massive envelopes of dark matter in which these galaxies reside, also are overweight.

The new study suggests the two supermassive black holes and their evolution are tied to their dark matter halos and they did not grow in tandem with the galactic bulges. In this view, the black holes and dark matter halos are not overweight, but the total mass in the galaxies is too low.

"This gives us more evidence of a link between two of the most mysterious and darkest phenomena in astrophysics -- black holes and dark matter -- in these galaxies," said Akos Bogdan of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass, who led the new study.

NGC 4342 and NGC 4291 are close to Earth in cosmic terms, at distances of 75 million and 85 million light years, respectively. Astronomers had known from previous observations that these galaxies host black holes with relatively large masses, but astronomers are not certain what is responsible for the disparity. Based on the new Chandra observations, however, they are able to rule out a phenomenon known as tidal stripping.

Tidal stripping occurs when some of a galaxy's stars are stripped away by gravity during a close encounter with another galaxy. If such tidal stripping had taken place, the halos also mostly would have been missing. Because dark matter extends farther away from the galaxies, it is more loosely tied to them than the stars and is more likely to be pulled away.

To rule out tidal stripping, astronomers used Chandra to look for evidence of hot, X-ray emitting gas around the two galaxies. Because the pressure of hot gas – estimated from X-ray images -- balances the gravitational pull of all the matter in the galaxy, the new Chandra data can provide information about the dark matter halos. The hot gas was found to be widely distributed around both NGC 4342 and NGC 4291, implying that each galaxy has an unusually massive dark matter halo, and therefore that that tidal stripping is unlikely.

"This is the clearest evidence we have, in the nearby universe, for black holes growing faster than their host galaxy," said co-author Bill Forman, also of CfA. "It's not that the galaxies have been compromised by close encounters, but instead they had some sort of arrested development."

How can the mass of a black hole grow faster than the stellar mass of its host galaxy? The study's authors suggest that a large concentration of gas spinning slowly in the galactic center is what the black hole consumes very early in its history. It grows quickly, and as it grows, the amount of gas it can accrete, or swallow, increases along with the energy output from the accretion. Once the black hole reaches a critical mass, outbursts powered by the continued consumption of gas prevent cooling and limits the production of new stars.

"It's possible that the supermassive black hole reached a hefty size before there were many stars at all in the galaxy," said Bogdan. "That is a significant change in our way of thinking about how galaxies and black holes evolve together."

These results were presented June 11 at the 220th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Anchorage, Alaska. The study also has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for the agency's NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., controls Chandra's science and flight operations.

For Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/chandra
For an additional interactive image, podcast, and video on the finding, visit:
http://chandra.si.edu
Media contacts:
J.D. Harrington
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-0321
j.d.harrington@nasa.gov
Megan Watzke
Chandra X-ray Center, Cambridge, Mass.
617-496-7998
mwatzke@cfa.harvard.edu

Megan Watzke | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cfa.harvard.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht FAST detects neutral hydrogen emission from extragalactic galaxies for the first time
02.07.2020 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

nachricht First exposed planetary core discovered
01.07.2020 | Universität Bern

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: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

Im Focus: Gentle wall contact – the right scenario for a fusion power plant

Quasi-continuous power exhaust developed as a wall-friendly method on ASDEX Upgrade

A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...

Im Focus: ILA Goes Digital – Automation & Production Technology for Adaptable Aircraft Production

Live event – July 1, 2020 - 11:00 to 11:45 (CET)
"Automation in Aerospace Industry @ Fraunhofer IFAM"

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM l Stade is presenting its forward-looking R&D portfolio for the first time at...

Im Focus: AI monitoring of laser welding processes - X-ray vision and eavesdropping ensure quality

With an X-ray experiment at the European Synchrotron ESRF in Grenoble (France), Empa researchers were able to demonstrate how well their real-time acoustic monitoring of laser weld seams works. With almost 90 percent reliability, they detected the formation of unwanted pores that impair the quality of weld seams. Thanks to a special evaluation method based on artificial intelligence (AI), the detection process is completed in just 70 milliseconds.

Laser welding is a process suitable for joining metals and thermoplastics. It has become particularly well established in highly automated production, for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rising water temperatures could endanger the mating of many fish species

03.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Risk of infection with COVID-19 from singing: First results of aerosol study with the Bavarian Radio Chorus

03.07.2020 | Studies and Analyses

Efficient, Economical and Aesthetic: Researchers Build Electrodes from Leaves

03.07.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>