New Research Suggests Winds From Supermassive Black Holes Can Be Powerful Enough To Prevent Stars From Forming, Influencing The Evolution Of Surrounding Galaxies

Mathias Weil - - illustrative purposes only

A new study suggests that “wind” from black holes may be responsible for influencing the surrounding galaxies.

Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Arizona analyzed a quasar, which is the extremely luminous core of a galaxy. Its light is powered by a supermassive black hole. They wanted to find changes in the gases surrounding a black hole.

They discovered that the winds from black holes, which are really just clouds of gases moving at speeds of more than 10,000 miles per second, can be strong enough to prevent stars from forming.

The winds are due to the force of the radiation that a black hole emits. So, the scientists came to the conclusion that black holes can influence the evolution of surrounding galaxies.

The new findings were presented at the 244th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. A professor from the Department of Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison named Kate Grier said, “Some studies indicate that some of these winds do have enough energy to blast out into the host galaxy and interrupt/affect star formation, either by compressing gas, which spurs star formation or by removing gas, which will inhibit star formation.”

She added that other studies concluded the winds didn’t have enough energy to alter galaxies. These opposing viewpoints inspired Kate and her team to come up with a more definitive answer to the question. So, they set out to determine how the winds are produced.

Supermassive black holes are thought to be located in the centers of large galaxies in our universe. Astronomers study them by observing how the material around them responds to the huge gravitational pulls.

If the material gets too near the black hole, it gets sucked in and eaten by the hole. If the black hole has a constant supply of material to consume, a rotating disk of matter called an “accretion disk” will orbit around it.

The material gets really hot and emits light, which makes a supermassive black hole “active.” The brightest ones are referred to as quasars. The quasar that the team of scientists examined is billions of light-years away and is located in the constellation Boötes.

Mathias Weil – – illustrative purposes only

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