Science Current Events | Science News |

Massive black holes halt star birth in distant galaxies

May 10, 2012
Astronomers, using the European Space Agency's (ESA) Herschel Space Observatory, have shown that the number of stars that form during the early lives of galaxies may be influenced by the massive black holes at their hearts. This helps explain the link between the size of the central bulges of galaxies and the mass of their central black holes.

All large galaxies have a massive black hole at their centre, each millions of times the mass of a single star. For over a decade scientists have been puzzled as to why the masses of the black holes are linked to the size of the round central bulges at the hearts of galaxies. The suspicion has long been that the answer lies in the early lives of the galaxies, when the stars in the bulge were forming. To study this phase, astronomers need to look at very distant galaxies, so far away that we see them as they were billions of years ago.

Although the black holes themselves cannot be seen, the material closest to them can get incredibly hot, emitting large amounts of light over a very wide range of wavelengths, from radio waves to x-rays. The light from this super-heated material can be trillions of times as bright as the Sun, with brighter emissions indicating a more massive black hole. Ther e are also strong flows of material (winds and jets) expelled from the region around the black hole.

The hot material near the black hole outshines almost all the light from rest of the host galaxy, except for the light with wavelengths just less than a millimetre. This sub-millimetre light is invisible to normal telescopes but is seen by the Herschel Space Observatory and indicates the rate at which stars are being formed in the galaxy.

"Herschel provides a new perspective and is conducting a number of surveys of galaxies near and far, in order to unravel the mysteries of the formation and evolution of galaxies across cosmic time," explains Göran Pilb'ratt, the ESA Herschel Project Scientist.

The latest study, led by Dr. Mat Page of University College London's Mullard Space Science Laboratory, used images from the SPIRE camera on board Herschel to calculate the amount of star formation in distant galaxies. This can be compared with the X-rays detected by NASA's Chandra X-ray satellite, which indicates the growth-rate of the black hole.

"Space telescopes like Herschel let us look back in time, and that's just what we need to do to find out how today's galaxies were built. Galaxies were forming stars like crazy when the Universe was young, but trying to see the light from star formation against the glare from the hot stuff around the black hole has been almost impossible until now. That's all changed with the new wavelengths opened up by Herschel's SPIRE camera" said Dr. Page.

Galaxies with massive black holes were found to have high rates of star formation, with some forming stars at a thousand times the rate of our own Milky Way galaxy today. But intriguingly, the Herschel results show that the fastest-growing black holes are in galaxies with very little star formation - once the radiation coming from close to the black hole exceeds a certain power, it tends to "switch off" star formation in its galaxy.

Prof. Seb Oliver from the University of Sussex and co-leader of the HerMES project, said "This fantastic result provides an amazing link between black holes and star formation in the early Universe. It is a huge clue to this decade old riddle and could mean that once a black hole is big enough and producing enough radiation, it somehow shuts down the formation of stars in the surrounding galaxy."

The most likely explanation is that the incredibly strong winds from around these very powerful black holes are preventing the gas and dust in the rest of the galaxy from forming stars.

"This means that the total number of stars that form is limited by the power of the black hole that shapes that galaxy" said Dr Myrto Symeonidis, a co-author of the study.

Prof. Matt Griffin of Cardiff University, who is the Principal Investigator of the international team which built the Herschel-SPIRE instrument said "This important discovery shows how the great sensitivity of SPIRE is allowing us to look back in time and understand the early history and development of the galaxies that populate today's universe. Only a small fraction of the instrument's observations have been fully analysed so far, and we're looking forward to many more exciting results."

UK Space Agency

Related Black Holes Current Events and Black Holes News Articles

Georgia Tech researchers use XSEDE supercomputers to understand and predict how black holes swallow stars
Somewhere in the cosmos an ordinary galaxy spins, seemingly at slumber. Then all of a sudden, WHAM! A flash of light explodes from the galaxy's center. A star orbiting too close to the event horizon of the galaxy's central supermassive black hole is torn apart by the force of gravity, heating up its gas and sending out a beacon to the far reaches of the universe.

Watching for a black hole to gobble up a gas cloud
Right now a doomed gas cloud is edging ever closer to the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. These black holes feed on gas and dust all the time, but astronomers rarely get to see mealtime in action.

Simple, like a neutron star
In how many ways can one describe an object? Take an apple: by just looking at it we can easily estimate its weight, shape and colour but we are unable to describe it at any other level, for example, to evaluate the chemical composition of its flesh.

New fast and furious black hole found
A team of Australian and American astronomers have been studying nearby galaxy M83 and have found a new superpowered small black hole, named MQ1, the first object of its kind to be studied in this much detail.

Clouds seen circling supermassive black holes
Astronomers see huge clouds of gas orbiting supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies. Once thought to be a relatively uniform, fog-like ring, the accreting matter instead forms clumps dense enough to intermittently dim the intense radiation blazing forth as these enormous objects condense and consume matter.

RXTE Reveals the Cloudy Cores of Active Galaxies
Picture a single cloud large enough to span the solar system from the sun to beyond Pluto's orbit. Now imagine many such clouds orbiting in a vast ring at the heart of a distant galaxy, occasionally dimming the X-ray light produced by the galaxy's monster black hole.

When a black hole shreds a star, a bright flare tells the story
Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz uses computer simulations to explore the universe's most violent events, so when the first detailed observations of a star being ripped apart by a black hole were reported in 2012 (Gezari et al., Nature), he was eager to compare the data with his simulations.

Galaxies on FIRE: Star Feedback Results in Less Massive Galaxies
For decades, astrophysicists have encountered a puzzling contradiction: although many galactic-wind models-simulations of how matter is distributed in our universe-predict that the majority of the "normal" matter exists in stars at the center of galaxies, in actuality these stars account for less than 10 percent of the matter in the universe.

AAS Meeting Highlights Several New Hubble Science Findings
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is providing a new perspective on the remote universe, including new views of young and distant galaxies bursting with stars. Scientists described the findings Tuesday in a news conference sponsored by the American Astronomical Society (AAS).

NASA's Fermi Makes First Gamma-ray Study of a Gravitational Lens
An international team of astronomers, using NASA's Fermi observatory, has made the first-ever gamma-ray measurements of a gravitational lens, a kind of natural telescope formed when a rare cosmic alignment allows the gravity of a massive object to bend and amplify light from a more distant source.
More Black Holes Current Events and Black Holes News Articles

Black Holes (True Books)

Black Holes (True Books)
by Ker Than (Author)

Book Details:Format: PaperbackPublication Date: 3/1/2010Pages: 48Reading Level: Age 7 and Up

Black Holes: Everything You Need to Know About Black Holes and Black Hole Physics (space exploration, space, astronomy, Cosmology)

Black Holes: Everything You Need to Know About Black Holes and Black Hole Physics (space exploration, space, astronomy, Cosmology)

Everything you Need to Know about Black Holes and Black Hole Physics!

Black Holes have been, and are still to this day, one of the great mysteries of cosmology. They have inspired the imaginations of generations when looking out into space and have been the focus of astronomy for years. Today, much is known about black hole physics and the characteristics of these great beasts of space. This book will bring you up to speed with what we know today about black holes.

Here Is A Preview Of What You'll Learn...Black Hole FundamentalsBlack Hole HistoryBlack Hole FormationBlack Hole AnatomyEvent HorizonSpace and TimeEntering a Black HoleCosmology and AstronomySchwarzschild RadiusPrimordial Black HoleSupermassive Black HoleStellar Black HoleSingularityPhoton...

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries
by Neil deGrasse Tyson (Author)

A vibrant collection of essays on the cosmos from the nation's best-known astrophysicist. “One of today’s best popularizers of science.”—Kirkus Reviews. Loyal readers of the monthly "Universe" essays in Natural History magazine have long recognized Neil deGrasse Tyson's talent for guiding them through the mysteries of the cosmos with clarity and enthusiasm. Bringing together more than forty of Tyson's favorite essays, ?Death by Black Hole? explores a myriad of cosmic topics, from what it would be like to be inside a black hole to the movie industry's feeble efforts to get its night skies right. One of America's best-known astrophysicists, Tyson is a natural teacher who simplifies the complexities of astrophysics while sharing his infectious fascination for our...

Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program)

Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program)
by Kip S. Thorne (Author), Stephen Hawking (Foreword)

Ever since Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity burst upon the world in 1915 some of the most brilliant minds of our century have sought to decipher the mysteries bequeathed by that theory, a legacy so unthinkable in some respects that even Einstein himself rejected them. Which of these bizarre phenomena, if any, can really exist in our universe? Black holes, down which anything can fall but from which nothing can return; wormholes, short spacewarps connecting regions of the cosmos; singularities, where space and time are so violently warped that time ceases to exist and space becomes a kind of foam; gravitational waves, which carry symphonic accounts of collisions of black holes billions of years ago; and time machines, for traveling backward and forward in time.


A Black Hole Is Not a Hole

A Black Hole Is Not a Hole
by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano (Author)

Get ready to S-T-R-E-T-C-H your mind!

What is a black hole? Where do they come from? How were they discovered? Can we visit one? Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano takes readers on a ride through the galaxies (ours, and others), answering these questions and many more about the phenomenon known as a black hole.

In lively and often humorous text, the book starts off with a thorough explanation of gravity and the role it plays in the formation of black holes. Paintings by Michael Carroll, coupled with real telescopic images, help readers visualize the facts and ideas presented in the text, such as how light bends, and what a supernova looks like.

A BLACK HOLE IS NOT A HOLE is an excellent introduction to an extremely complex scientific concept. Back matter includes a timeline...

Black Hole

Black Hole
by Charles Burns (Author)

Winner of the Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz Awards

The setting: suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s. We learn from the outset that a strange plague has descended upon the area’s teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested in any number of ways — from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable) — but once you’ve got it, that’s it. There’s no turning back.

As we inhabit the heads of several key characters — some kids who have it, some who don’t, some who are about to get it — what unfolds isn’t the expected battle to fight the plague, or bring heightened awareness to it , or even to treat it. What we become witness to instead is a fascinating and eerie portrait of the nature of high school alienation itself — the savagery,...

Black Holes: A Kids Book About Space - What is a Black Hole? Learn About the Physics and Mysteries of Black Holes

Black Holes: A Kids Book About Space - What is a Black Hole? Learn About the Physics and Mysteries of Black Holes

Children's author Jared Johnson presents: "Black Holes: A Kids Book About Space - What is a Black Hole? Learn About the Physics and Mysteries of Black Holes". This informative children's book includes brilliant REAL, high-quality photographs & some of the most interesting, important facts about Black Holes.

Aside from the beautiful pictures, Jared uncovers some of the most intriguing facts about black holes like:

Where do Black Holes come from and how are they formed?
What do Black Holes look like and how do we know that they exist?
Will our own Sun turn into a Black Hole?

This book is appropriate for children over the age of 8 and young adults because of the physics and space concepts presented in this book.

Get this book at this...

The Geometry of Kerr Black Holes (Dover Books on Physics)

The Geometry of Kerr Black Holes (Dover Books on Physics)
by Barrett O'Neill (Author)

This unique monograph by a noted UCLA professor examines in detail the mathematics of Kerr black holes, which possess the properties of mass and angular momentum but carry no electrical charge. Suitable for advanced undergraduates and graduate students of mathematics, physics, and astronomy as well as professional physicists, the self-contained treatment constitutes an introduction to modern techniques in differential geometry.
The text begins with a substantial chapter offering background on the mathematics needed for the rest of the book. Subsequent chapters emphasize physical interpretations of geometric properties such as curvature, geodesics, isometries, totally geodesic submanifolds, and topological structure. Further investigations cover relativistic concepts such as causality,...

Black Holes

Black Holes
by Heather Couper (Author), Nigel Henbest (Author), Luciano Corbella (Illustrator)

Black holes are the most mysterious and misunderstood elements in the universe. Although no one has ever seen a black hole, Black Holes explains and depicts these mystifying objects. A recurring topic in the news, Black Holes offers the most recent information on this topic--complete with vivid reconstructions and illustrations of what it would be like to travel in a black hole. Full color.

Black Holes! Learn About Black Holes and Enjoy Colorful Pictures - Look and Learn! (50+ Photos of Black Holes)

Black Holes! Learn About Black Holes and Enjoy Colorful Pictures - Look and Learn! (50+ Photos of Black Holes)

Are your kids interested in Black Holes? Awesome! You have found the right book. Help your children learn more about Black Holes today by reading this book.

Here is what is included inside "Black Holes! Learn About Black Holes and Enjoy Colorful Pictures – Look and Learn!"...

Black Holes
Rogue Black Holes
Black Hole Images
Black Hole Facts
Supermassive Black Holes
Black Hole Structures
Event Horizons
Fun Black Hole Facts
And Lots More!

Includes over 50 high quality photos of Black Holes!

Other bonuses inside "Black Holes! Learn About Black Holes and Enjoy Colorful Pictures – Look and Learn!"...
This book has photos of Black Holes.
This book has info on Black...

© 2014