Black hole producing powerful galactic blast identifiedAmy Walsh (Author) Published Date : Jan 08, 2016 22:35 IST
A powerful galactic blast produced by a giant black hole about 26 million light years from Earth has been discovered by a team of researchers. The team led by Eric Schlegel, Vaughn Family Endowed Professor in Physics at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has stated that the black hole is the nearest supermassive black hole to Earth that is presently undergoing such fierce outbursts.
The researchers presented their findings at the 227th meeting of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Kissimmee, Fla. They have also described their work in a paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.
The black hole blast was found in Messier 51 system of galaxies and Schlegel's team used NASA's Earth-orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory to find this out. The system contains a large spiral galaxy, NGC 5194, colliding with a smaller companion galaxy, NGC 5195.
Schlegel said that Just as powerful storms here on Earth impact their environments, the ones we see out in space also have a significant impact on their environments. This black hole is blasting hot gas and particles into its surroundings that must play an important role in the evolution of the galaxy.
Two X-ray emission arcs close to the center of NGC 5195 were detected by Schlegel and his colleagues and this is where the super massive black hole is positioned.
Co-author Christine Jones, astrophysicist and lecturer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) stated that these arcs signify artifacts from two gigantic gusts when the black hole excluded material outward into the galaxy. It is argued that this movement has had a big outcome on the galactic landscape.
A slender region of hydrogen gas emission was found just beyond the outer arc. This suggested that X-ray emitting gas displaced the hydrogen gas from the center of the galaxy.
Moreover, the properties of the gas around the arcs suggest that the outer arc has swept up enough material to trigger the formation of new stars. This type of phenomenon, where a black hole affects its host galaxy, is called feedback.
The astronomers believe the black hole's outbursts may have been triggered by the interaction of NGC 5195 with its larger companion, NGC 5194, causing gas to be funneled toward the black hole. The team calculated approximately that it took about one to three million years for the inner arc to arrive at its existing position, and three to six million years for the outer arc.
Black hole producing powerful galactic blast identified