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 New Insight into Molecular Processes
21.11.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Exoplanet stepping stones
21.11.2018 | W. M. Keck Observatory

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: First diode for magnetic fields

Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.

Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helping to Transport Proteins Inside the Cell

21.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Meta-surface corrects for chromatic aberrations across all kinds of lenses

21.11.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water

21.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>