Apparently, a black hole has been ejected from its galaxy. Now it’s hurtling through space, trailing a trail of new stars behind it.
NEW HAVEN – In the midst of large galaxies are supermassive black holes that feed on anything that gets close to them: gas, dust and stars, for example. As a rule, supermassive black holes survive – One of them is also in the center of the Milky Way – in its place. But in rare cases, a black hole can be ejected from its galaxy.
New study, first on server prepress arXiv published, and on April 6, 2023 in the specialized magazine Astrophysical Journal Letters published It was reported from a supermassive black hole. She was ejected from her galaxy and is now racing through space. According to the International Research Group, the supermassive black hole generates shock waves in its path and leads to star formation. “Something like this has never been seen anywhere in the universe,” Peter van Dokkum explains in one. communication.
A massive hole has been ejected from a galaxy
The research group led by Yale University physics and astronomy professor Van Dokkum hypothesizes that the black hole was ejected from its galaxy when it merged with another galaxy. In the process, two supermassive black holes meet, and they can coexist peacefully for a very long time. But eventually, when a third galaxy with another supermassive black hole is added, one of the black holes can be “knocked out” from the galaxy.
Despite their massive size, supermassive black holes are hard to find because they absorb all the light and nothing escapes. However, researchers have now detected a strange structure in new images from the Hubble Space Telescope: a narrow, straight band of newly formed stars farther out from the galaxy.
A black hole leaves a trail of a star
The research group’s assumption: On its way through space, a black hole interacts with the perigalactic medium (the gas that surrounds galaxies). As the black hole moves through ionized hydrogen, a gaseous shock wave with a long trajectory can be generated. In this track, gas clouds can cool and form stars that look like “knots” in the track.
“We saw a thin line in the Hubble image pointing directly at the center of the galaxy,” Van Dokkum told Live Science. “Using the Keck telescope, we found that the line and the galaxy are connected.” The shape of the galaxy suggests that it has merged with another galaxy.
The length of the strip in space is more than 200,000 light-years. Analysis by the research group showed that the stars in the bar are young – which means the black hole didn’t “take” them from its previous galaxy. It must have originated in the path of gas expelled by the black hole.
The supermassive hole has a mass of 20 million suns
The research team estimates that the black hole, which has a mass of 20 million suns, was ejected from its host galaxy 39 million years ago. It is now racing across the universe at 5.6 million kilometers per hour.
Even if the research team’s observations and calculations clearly speak for a supermassive black hole: there is only one way to determine whether the theory is correct, the authors write: “The ‘definitive proof’ for this scenario would be the unequivocal identification of the black hole itself.”
As a next step, the research group wants to use the James Webb Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Telescope to continue observing the object and see if it is a runaway black hole. If the research group theory is confirmed, it will be the first time we have clear evidence that supermassive black holes can escape from their galaxies, Ducum asserts. (unpaid bill)
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