Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Black holes: Gas blowers of the universe

Date:
May 14, 2010
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Supermassive black holes with the mass of many millions of stars have been detected at the centre of many large galaxies. A super-massive black hole acts like a lurking "monster" at the centre of the galaxy which swallows the surrounding material through the intensity of its gravitational pull. X-ray observations indicate that a large amount of energy is produced by the in-fall of matter into a black hole, and ejected in powerful jets. Astronomers have now shown that these jets eject matter not only from their host galaxies but even the gas between the galaxy group members.

False colour image of the central region of a galaxy group in X-rays. The jet of matter blown out of the central black hole can be clearly identified by its radio luminosity (overlaid, purple-blue).
Credit: S. Giodini/A. Finoguenov/MPE

Supermassive black holes with the mass of many millions of stars have been detected at the centre of many large galaxies. A super-massive black hole acts like a lurking "monster" at the centre of the galaxy which swallows the surrounding material through the intensity of its gravitational pull. X-ray observations indicate that a large amount of energy is produced by the in-fall of matter into a black hole, and ejected in powerful jets. Astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics have now shown that these jets eject matter not only from their host galaxies but even the gas between the galaxy group members.

Related Articles


The research is published May 1, 2010 in The Astrophysical Journal.

Astronomers have long been trying to understand how black holes interact with the environment (the so-called feedback), but to date the process is poorly understood. Observations and simulations have shown that active galaxies transport huge amounts of material with their jets, which are particularly luminous at radio wavelengths, into the intra-cluster gas. Signatures of this "radio-mode feedback" are observed both in radio and in X-rays.

Recent studies have shown that the amount of gas in galaxy groups, objects consisting of several galaxies bound together such as the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy, does not add up to the amount predicted by cosmology -- unlike in galaxy clusters with up to thousands of individual members. Large amounts of mechanical energy injected into the gas from the central black hole may have removed part of it. However to date this was only a hypothesis. Previous group samples were limited to a handful of nearby objects populated by low luminosity radio black holes.

Using one of the largest samples of X-ray detected groups and clusters of galaxies identified by XMM-Newton together with radio observations, a team of astronomers led by Stefania Giodini at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics has studied the energetics of radio galaxy feedback in galaxy groups. In the COSMOS field, where almost 300 X-ray galaxy groups have been detected, the team has been able to show that the black hole activity in the centre of galaxy groups must have a dramatic effect on the surroundings: they eject sufficient energy to blow the intergalactic gas out of the gravitational well of the galaxy group. The mystery of the missing gas in galaxy groups is solved -- and the large impact of black holes in galaxy groups demonstrated for the first time.

"In galaxy groups the gas is contained by gravity. But the black holes produce so much energy that this outweighs the capacity of the group to hold its gas," explained Stefania Giodini, the lead author of the paper. "A significant part of the gas is removed. No similar effect is observed in more massive galaxy clusters, where the huge gravitational pull restrains the gas from being removed."

"It is impressive what a significant influence radio outflows from galaxies can have on their surroundings," said Vernesa Smolčić from the California Institute of Technology, co-author of the paper. "This likely happens not only on the scales of the host galaxies of these outflows, but also on scales as large as the distance from our Milky Way to Andromeda. Radio galaxies seem to be the "trouble makers" in the Universe that can heat the gas around their host galaxies to unexpected temperatures, as well as expel a fraction of matter from galaxy groups."

Hans Bφhringer, head of the Research Group for Clusters of Galaxies and Cosmology at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, also participated to this study: "In nearby clusters we can see the short term effect of the energy outbursts occasionally in the form of radio-luminous, relativistic plasma bubbles. Direct evidence for periodic outburst behaviour can only be found by looking at their effect in a large number of groups."

The enormous effect of individual galaxy nuclei is surprising even for astronomers. "I could never imagine to what a degree the black holes can displace the gas in galaxy groups," says Alexis Finoguenov from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and University of Maryland, Baltimore County, "they are the glass-blowers of the Universe."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Giodini, V. Smol%u010Di%u0107, A. Finoguenov, H. Boehringer, L. Bξrzan, G. Zamorani, A. Oklop%u010Di%u0107, D. Pierini, G. W. Pratt, E. Schinnerer, R. Massey, A. M. Koekemoer, M. Salvato, D. B. Sanders, J. S. Kartaltepe, D. Thompson. Radio Galaxy Feedback in X-ray-selected Groups from COSMOS: The Effect on the Intracluster Medium. The Astrophysical Journal, 2010; 714 (1): 218 DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/714/1/218

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Black holes: Gas blowers of the universe." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100511111925.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2010, May 14). Black holes: Gas blowers of the universe. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100511111925.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Black holes: Gas blowers of the universe." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100511111925.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — In a blog post, Google said its balloons have traveled 3 million kilometers since the start of Project Loon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crowdfunded Moon Mission Offers To Store Your Digital Memory

Crowdfunded Moon Mission Offers To Store Your Digital Memory

Newsy (Nov. 19, 2014) — Lunar Mission One is offering to send your digital memory (or even your DNA) to the moon to be stored for a billion years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Accidents Ignite Debate on US Commercial Space Travel

Accidents Ignite Debate on US Commercial Space Travel

AFP (Nov. 19, 2014) — Serious accidents with two US commercial spacecraft within a week of each-other in October have re-ignited the debate over the place of private corporations in the exploration of space. Duration: 02:08 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lunar Mission One Could Send Your Hair to The Moon

Lunar Mission One Could Send Your Hair to The Moon

Buzz60 (Nov. 19, 2014) — A British-led venture called Lunar Mission One plans to send a module to the moon with keepsakes from Earth. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) tells you how to get your photos and DNA onboard. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins