Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cosmic weight watching reveals black hole-galaxy history

Date:
October 3, 2011
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Using state-of-the-art technology and sophisticated data analysis tools, a team of astronomers has developed a new and powerful technique to directly determine the mass of an active galaxy at a distance of nearly 9 billion light-years from Earth. This pioneering method promises a new approach for studying the co-evolution of galaxies and their central black holes. First results indicate that for galaxies, the best part of cosmic history was not a time of sweeping changes.

Colors in this image of the galaxy J090543.56+043347.3 indicate whether there is gas moving towards us or away from us, and at what speed. Using this information, the researchers reconstructed the galaxy's dynamical mass. The star shape indicates the position of the galaxy's active nucleus; the surrounding contour lines indicate brightness levels or light emitted by the nucleus. Dark blue pixels indicate gas moving towards us at a speed of 250 km/s, dark red pixels gas moving away from us at 350 km/s.
Credit: K. J. Inskip/MPIA

Using state-of-the-art technology and sophisticated data analysis tools, a team of astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has developed a new and powerful technique to directly determine the mass of an active galaxy at a distance of nearly 9 billion light-years from Earth. This pioneering method promises a new approach for studying the co-evolution of galaxies and their central black holes. First results indicate that for galaxies, the best part of cosmic history was not a time of sweeping changes.

Related Articles


One of the most intriguing developments in astronomy over the last few decades is the realization that not only do most galaxies contain central black holes of gigantic size, but also that the mass of these central black holes are directly related to the mass of their host galaxies. This correlation is predicted by the current standard model of galaxy evolution, the so-called hierarchical model, as astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have recently shown.

When astronomers look out to greater and greater distances, they look further and further into the past. Investigating this black hole-galaxy mass correlation at different distances, and thus at different times in cosmic history, allows astronomers to study galaxy and black hole evolution in action.

For galaxies further away than 5 billion light-years (corresponding to a redshift of z > 0.5), such studies face considerable difficulties. The typical objects of study are so-called active galaxies, and there are well-established methods to estimate the mass of such a galaxy's central black hole. It is the galaxy's mass itself that is the challenge: At such distances, standard methods of estimating a galaxy's mass become exceedingly uncertain or fail altogether.

Now, a team of astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, led by Dr Katherine Inskip, has, for the first time, succeeded in directly "weighing" both a galaxy and its central black hole at such a great distance using a sophisticated and novel method. The galaxy, known to astronomers by the number J090543.56+043347.3 (which encodes the galaxy's position in the sky) has a distance of 8.8 billion light-years from Earth (redshift z = 1.3).

The astronomers succeeded in measuring directly the so-called dynamical mass of this active galaxy. The key idea is the following: A galaxy's stars and gas clouds orbit the galactic centre; for instance, our Sun orbits the centre of the Milky Way galaxy once every 250 million years. The stars' different orbital speeds are a direct function of the galaxy's mass distribution. Determine orbital speeds and you can determine the galaxy's total mass.


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. K. J. Inskip, K. Jahnke, H.-W. Rix, G. van de Ven. Resolving the Dynamical Mass of a z ~ 1.3 Quasi-stellar Object Host Galaxy Using SINFONI and Laser Guide Star Assisted Adaptive Optics. The Astrophysical Journal, 2011; 739 (2): 90 DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/739/2/90

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Cosmic weight watching reveals black hole-galaxy history." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110930071708.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2011, October 3). Cosmic weight watching reveals black hole-galaxy history. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110930071708.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Cosmic weight watching reveals black hole-galaxy history." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110930071708.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Driverless Budii Gives the Wheel Feel

Driverless Budii Gives the Wheel Feel

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 6, 2015) The Rinspeed Budii Concept car is creating a driverless stir at this year&apos;s Geneva car show. It&apos;s an all-electric autonomous vehicle with a difference. Ciara Lee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Star Wars Inspires Mobile Holograms

Star Wars Inspires Mobile Holograms

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 6, 2015) 3D holograms could soon be coming to your mobile phone. Inspired by the famous Princess Leia hologram from Star Wars, a U.S. company is showcasing a prototype display at the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona and says it could be used for real-time video calls. Ivor Bennett reports Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Game Makers Lured Into Virtual Worlds

Game Makers Lured Into Virtual Worlds

AFP (Mar. 6, 2015) Some 25,000 people have descended upon San Francisco to show off the latest technologies and video games at the Game Developers Conference. Developers here discuss the future of the industry. Duration: 02:20. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gas Production Cut on Earthquake Fears

Gas Production Cut on Earthquake Fears

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) The Dutch government has cut production at Europe&apos;s largest gas field in Groningen amid concerns over earthquakes which are damaging local churches. As Amy Pollock reports the decision - largely politically-motivated - could have big economic conseqeunces. 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