Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Red stars and big bulges: How black holes shape galaxies

Date:
April 22, 2014
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)
Summary:
The universe we can see is made up of thousands of millions of galaxies, each containing anywhere from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of billions of stars. Large numbers of galaxies are elliptical in shape, red and mostly made up of old stars. Another (more familiar) type is the spiral, where arms wind out in a blue thin disk from a central red bulge. On average stars in spiral galaxies tend to be much younger than those in ellipticals. Now a group of astronomers has found a (relatively) simple relationship between the color of a galaxy and the size of its bulge: the more massive the bulge, the redder the galaxy.

Images of a small fraction of the galaxies analysed in the new study. The galaxies are ordered by total mass of stars (rising from bottom to top) and by ‘bulge to total stellar mass ratio’ (rising from left to right). Galaxies that appear redder have high values for both of these measurements, meaning that the mass of the bulge –and central black hole – determines their colour.
Credit: A. Bluck

The universe we can see is made up of thousands of millions of galaxies, each containing anywhere from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of billions of stars. Large numbers of galaxies are elliptical in shape, red and mostly made up of old stars. Another (more familiar) type is the spiral, where arms wind out in a blue thin disk from a central red bulge. On average stars in spiral galaxies tend to be much younger than those in ellipticals.

Now a group of astronomers led by Asa Bluck of the University of Victoria in Canada have found a (relatively) simple relationship between the colour of a galaxy and the size of its bulge: the more massive the bulge the redder the galaxy.

The researchers publish their results in the Oxford University Press journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Asa and his team used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to group together over half a million galaxies of all different colours, shapes, and masses. They then used pattern recognition software to measure the shape of each one, to see how the proportion of red stars in a galaxy varies with its other properties.

They found that the mass in the central bulge (regardless of how big the disk surrounding it may be) is the key to knowing the colour of the whole galaxy. Above a given bulge mass, galaxies are red and have no new young stars.

Almost all galaxies have supermassive black holes at their centres. The mass of the bulge is closely related to the mass of the black hole; the more massive the black hole the more energy is released into the surrounding galaxy in the form of powerful jets and X-ray emission. This can blow away and heat up gas, stopping new stars from forming.

Asa comments: "A relatively simple result, that large galaxy bulges mean red galaxies, has profound consequences. Big bulges mean big black holes and these can put an end to star formation."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Asa F. L. Bluck, J. Trevor Mendel, Sara L. Ellison, Jorge Moreno, Luc Simard, David R. Patton, Else Starkenburg. Bulge mass is king: The dominant role of the bulge in determining the fraction of passive galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2014 [link]

Cite This Page:

Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Red stars and big bulges: How black holes shape galaxies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140422084655.htm>.
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). (2014, April 22). Red stars and big bulges: How black holes shape galaxies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140422084655.htm
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Red stars and big bulges: How black holes shape galaxies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140422084655.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

NASA (Aug. 18, 2014) Europe's ATV-5 delivers new science and the crew tests smart SPHERES. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

NASA (Aug. 15, 2014) Carbon Observatory’s First Data, ATV-5 Delivers Cargo, Cygnus Departs Station and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 14, 2014) The space shuttle replica Independence has been hoisted atop Space Center Houston's shuttle carrier aircraft, creating a monument to the shuttle program which will open to the public next year. 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:
from the past week

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