Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rain of giant gas clouds create active galactic nuclei: New research explains how galaxy centers light up

Date:
July 10, 2010
Source:
American Museum of Natural History
Summary:
Galaxies like our own were built billions of years ago from a deluge of giant clouds of gas, some of which continue to rain down. Now new calculations tie the rain of giant clouds of gas to active galactic nuclei, the extremely bright centers of some galaxies.

Galaxies like our own were built billions of years ago from a deluge of giant clouds of gas, some of which continue to rain down. Now new calculations tie the rain of giant clouds of gas to active galactic nuclei (AGN), the extremely bright centers of some galaxies.

Related Articles


If a gas cloud with millions of times more mass than our Sun wanders too close to the center of a galaxy, it can either be consumed by the supermassive black hole that lurks there or, through shocks and collapse, give birth to new stars.

"For a while, people have known that gas clouds are falling onto galaxies, and they've also known that active galactic nuclei are powered by gas falling onto supermassive black holes," says Barry McKernan, a research associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History and an assistant professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), City University of New York. "But no one put the two ideas together until now and said, 'Hey, maybe one is causing the other!'"

All galaxies are believed to host a supermassive black hole at their center, yet only a fraction of galactic centers show signs of brighter activity due to black hole feeding. The new research provides an explanation for the apparent conundrum: galactic centers which have sustained recent cloud impacts have enough fuel to light up by giving birth to hundreds of stars and feeding the central black hole. Galactic centers that have not been hit for a while (in cosmic terms, for more than about 10 million years) will be relatively inactive and their cores will appear normal.

"It's interesting that only some galaxies are active, even though we think every galaxy contains a supermassive black hole," says K. E. Saavik Ford, a research associate at the Museum and an assistant professor at BMCC. "The cloud bombardment idea provides an explanation: it's just random luck."

The research paper, currently online, will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. In addition to McKernan and Ford, the paper is authored by Ari Maller, assistant professor at New York City College of Technology, City University of New York. The research was supported in part by the American Museum of Natural History, grants from the City University of New York, and an ROA supplement to a National Science Foundation grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Museum of Natural History. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Museum of Natural History. "Rain of giant gas clouds create active galactic nuclei: New research explains how galaxy centers light up." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100708171351.htm>.
American Museum of Natural History. (2010, July 10). Rain of giant gas clouds create active galactic nuclei: New research explains how galaxy centers light up. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100708171351.htm
American Museum of Natural History. "Rain of giant gas clouds create active galactic nuclei: New research explains how galaxy centers light up." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100708171351.htm (accessed April 21, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hubble Marks 25th Birthday as Successor Readies for Launch

Hubble Marks 25th Birthday as Successor Readies for Launch

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) — With the Hubble Space Telescope celebrating its 25th anniversary on April 24, 2015, AFPTV takes a look at Hubble&apos;s control room and gets a sneak peek inside the space center assembling the James Webb Telescope - Hubble&apos;s successor. Duration: 02:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rocket Science: Building And Testing The Space Launch System

Rocket Science: Building And Testing The Space Launch System

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2015) — NASA&apos;s new rocket system will eventually be the most powerful ever built by man, but there are a lot of moving parts to test first. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
2015 NASA Rover Challenge Underway in Alabama

2015 NASA Rover Challenge Underway in Alabama

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Apr. 19, 2015) — Teams face an uphill battle for fastest rover in this year&apos;s NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge in Alabama. Julie Noce reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
International Space Station Captures SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft

International Space Station Captures SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft

Reuters - News Video Online (Apr. 17, 2015) — SpaceX&apos;s Dragon spacecraft reaches the International Space Station and is successfully captured by the station&apos;s robotic arm. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
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