Radio telescope image of the galaxy 4C12.50, nearly 1.5 billion light-years from Earth. Inset shows detail of location at end of superfast jet of particles, where a massive gas cloud (yellow-orange) is being pushed by the jet. 
(Credit: Morganti et al., NRAO/AUI/NSF)

Supermassive Black Holes Keep Galaxies From Getting Bigger

Article Updated: 23 Dec , 2015

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It’s long been a mystery for astronomers: why aren’t galaxies bigger? What regulates their rates of star formation and keeps them from just becoming even more chock-full-of-stars than they already are? Now, using a worldwide network of radio telescopes, researchers have observed one of the processes that was on the short list of suspects: one supermassive black hole’s jets are plowing huge amounts of potential star-stuff clear out of its galaxy.

Astronomers have theorized that many galaxies should be more massive and have more stars than is actually the case. Scientists proposed two major mechanisms that would slow or halt the process of mass growth and star formation — violent stellar winds from bursts of star formation and pushback from the jets powered by the galaxy’s central, supermassive black hole.

Read more: Our Galaxy’s Supermassive Black Hole is a Sloppy Eater

“With the finely-detailed images provided by an intercontinental combination of radio telescopes, we have been able to see massive clumps of cold gas being pushed away from the galaxy’s center by the black-hole-powered jets,” said Raffaella Morganti, of the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy and the University of Groningen.

The scientists studied a galaxy called 4C12.50, nearly 1.5 billion light-years from Earth. They chose this galaxy because it is at a stage where the black-hole “engine” that produces the jets is just turning on. As the black hole, a concentration of mass so dense that not even light can escape, pulls material toward it, the material forms a swirling disk surrounding the black hole. Processes in the disk tap the tremendous gravitational energy of the black hole to propel material outward from the poles of the disk.

NGC 253, aka the Sculptor Galaxy, is also blowing out gas but as the result of star formation (Image: T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, T. Abbott and NOAO/AURA/NSF)

NGC 253, aka the Sculptor Galaxy, is also blowing out gas but as the result of star formation (Image: T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, T. Abbott and NOAO/AURA/NSF)

At the ends of both jets, the researchers found clumps of hydrogen gas moving outward from the galaxy at 1,000 kilometers per second. One of the clouds has much as 16,000 times the mass of the Sun, while the other contains 140,000 times the mass of the Sun.

The larger cloud, the scientists said, is roughly 160 by 190 light-years in size.

“This is the most definitive evidence yet for an interaction between the swift-moving jet of such a galaxy and a dense interstellar gas cloud,” Morganti said. “We believe we are seeing in action the process by which an active, central engine can remove gas — the raw material for star formation — from a young galaxy,” she added.

The researchers published their findings in the September 6 issue of the journal Science.

Source: NRAO press release

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nitin jaglan
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nitin jaglan
September 6, 2013 3:04 AM

How can something get out of a blackhole when “Even light cannot escape it”..Sorry for asking such a naive question but it has plagued my mind forever

Jonas Larsson
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Jonas Larsson
September 6, 2013 5:32 AM

It’s not caused by matter getting out of the black hole, but most likely by phenomena caused by a spinning accretion disc, which is outside the volume of space where “Even light cannot escape it”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_jet

nitin jaglan
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nitin jaglan
September 6, 2013 5:53 PM

Thanks for clearing that up smile

Jason Major
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Jason Major
September 6, 2013 4:52 PM

The matter/energy that black holes shoot out isn’t stuff that’s passed across the event horizon, it’s stuff that’s been wrapped up and accelerated in the accretion disk and then flung out by its powerful spinning magnetic field lines. It’s like Cookie Monster… some of the cookie ends up in his mouth, but most gets spilled all over the floor.

This is especially true for rotating supermassive black holes which have large accretion disks and complex magnetic fields. It’s a messy buffet.

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Guest
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September 6, 2013 6:10 AM
About posted by Brian speculating and described about another experiment but connected within: Nice experiments, but lack of correct ideas, which is understandable because obviously the author don’t familiar with the Undivided Structure of the Matter USM http://www.kanevuniverse.com Namely: The unity and essence of the fields (gravitational electrostatic-magnetic and nuclear ones), which is shown convincingly in USM. From this follows that all the fields are the same which appears in between nuclear space like a nuclear, in between atoms space like electrostatic and in between galaxy space like gravitational one. How is created and what is the essence of the magnetic field also is shown in very convincing way. Moreover in very important analysis is shown the inertial… Read more »
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Guest
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September 6, 2013 6:11 AM

Never
forget the definition of black hole according to general relativity and it is
place in the space where nothing can escape and anything stream in! Sensible
person immediately ask you..where all these come in like masses, energies and
soon, and you cannot give him reasonable answer……

What is the first: the revolving disc, which
may hasn’t any mass, but which has tangential velocity and therefore bend the
space around itself, or the spherical mass which has or hasn’t tangential
velocity but we accuse that this mass bend the space and creates the so called
space time curvilinear tensor?

Gravity is
dynamically characterization (centripetal acceleration) but the bending is
kinematical characterization, so obviously You are wrong!

wpDiscuz