Research led by the University of Southampton offers revealed how supermassive black holes (SMBHs) are serving off gas clouds which usually reach them by travelling hundreds of thousands of light yrs from one galaxy to another.
An international group of scientists has shown there is a crucial link between the conversation of neighboring galaxies and the huge amount of gas needed to ‘ fuel’ these giant, super-dense, space phenomena. Their findings are due to be published in Nature Astronomy .
The black hole can be created when a star collapses, blending matter into a relatively tiny space. This increases the pressure of gravity to a stage where nothing can escape, not even light— hence the name.
Some black holes are gigantic, along with masses millions of times more than our sun, emitting large numbers of energy. These are known as ‘ supermassive black holes ‘ and exactly the way they are formed or obtain enough fuel to power themselves is still a secret.
Astrophysicist and lead researcher from the University or college of Southampton, Dr . Sandra Raimundo, says, “ Supermassive black holes fuel their activity by, in part, the gradual accumulation of gasoline from the environment around all of them. Supermassive black holes could make the centers of galaxies shine very brightly whenever they capture gas and it’s believed this process can be a major influence on the way that galaxies seem today. How SMBHs obtain enough fuel to maintain their activity and development still puzzles astronomers, but the work we have carried out supplies a step towards understanding this. ”
The Southampton scientist, working with experts at the universities of Copenhagen and California, used information from the 4-meter Anglo-Australian telescope in New South Wales, Australia to study the orbits of fuel and stars in a huge sample of more than 3000 galaxies. They identified those with the existence of what is known as ‘ misaligned’ gas— in other words, gas which rotates in a different path from the stars in the universe, signaling a past universe interaction. They then found that will galaxies with misaligned gasoline had a higher fraction of active supermassive black openings.
The results showed a clear link between misaligned gas and supermassive black hole activity— suggesting the gas is transferred exactly where two galaxies meet, meanders vast distances through space and then succumbs to the huge gravitational forces of the supermassive black hole— pulled in and swallowed up as a vital source of fuel. Astronomers have lengthy suspected that a merger with another galaxy could offer this source of gas, but direct evidence for this continues to be elusive.
Dr . Raimundo explains, “ The work that we carried out shows the presence of gas that is misaligned through stars is associated with a boost in the fraction of active supermassive black holes. Given that misaligned gas is a crystal clear sign of a past connection between two galaxies, our work shows that galaxy interactions provide fuel to energy active supermassive black openings. ”
“ This is the first time that a direct connection has been observed involving the formation and presence of misaligned gas and the fueling of active supermassive dark holes. ”
Dr . Marianne Vestergaard, the co-author in the study, states, “ What is exciting about these observations is that we can now, for the very first time, determine the captured gas and trace it all the way to the middle where the black hole is devouring it. ”
The scientists right now hope to extend their research and use their findings to calculate how much of the total mass of supermassive black holes grew from this mechanism and how important this was within the early universe.