Supermassive Black Hole Phenomenon Could Prevent New Stars From Forming
In the beginning, galaxies are filled with gases and dust particles that eventually lead to the birth of bright new stars.
At the other end of the spectrum, scientists from the University of Tokyo and the University of Oxford, believe that they have discovered how these galaxies become barren wastelands - they are heated by supermassive black holes, writes The Daily Mail.
A new study suggests that the supermassive black holes found at the center of most galaxies can create interstellar winds, producing what scientists term the ‘red geyser' phenomenon.
The winds heat up the ambient gas present in these galaxies, preventing it from cooling and leading to the formation of new stars.
"Stars form from the gas, but in many galaxies stars were found not to form despite an abundance of gas," Dr Edmond Cheung, an astronomer at the University of Tokyo who led the study, said in a press release. "It was like having deserts in densely clouded regions."
'We knew quiescent galaxies needed some way to suppress star formation, and now we think the red geysers phenomenon may represent how typical quiescent galaxies maintain their quiescence,' he added.
Researchers based their study on the ‘Akira' galaxy - a near-dormant galaxy.
Their observations showed that the interstellar winds appeared to originate at the center of Akira's center - in its galactic nucleus.
The intense gravitational pull of supermassive black holes, which lie at the center of most galaxies, draws nearby stars into orbit around it.
After observing Akira's with nearby galaxy, Tetsuo, the researchers suggested that Akira's strong gravitational force was pulling gas from Tetsuo into its supermassive black hole.
This process is behind the interstellar winds responsible for heating up Akira's gases and turning the galaxy into a barren red geyser.
Scientists named the phenomenon 'red geyser' based on the intermittent duration of the winds, as well as ‘red' due to the absence of young blue stars forming in these galaxies.
It seems that the phenomenon could eventually occur in the Milky Way, and could even be a possible eventuality for all inert galaxies.
"Stars form from the gas, a bit like the drops of rain condense from the water vapor," Dr Michele Cappellari, a physicist at Oxford University who was a co-author of the study, said in a press release. "And in both cases one needs the gas to cool down, for condensation to occur. But we could not understand what was preventing this cooling from happening in many galaxies."
"When we modelled the motion of the gas in the red geysers, we found that the gas was being pushed away from the galaxy centre, and escaping the galaxy gravitational pull," she added.
The study was published in the journal Nature.