News

Astronomers discover how to feed a black hole

Astronomers discover how to feed a black hole
Technology
The black holes at the centres of galaxies are the most mysterious objects in the Universe, not only because of the huge quantities of material within them, millions of times the mass of the Sun, but because of the incredibly dense concentration of matter in a volume no bigger than that of our Solar System. When they capture matter from their surroundings they become active, and can send out enormous quantities of energy from the capture process, although it is not easy to detect the black hole during these capture episodes, which are not frequent.

advertisement

However, a study led by the researcher Almudena Prieto, of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), has discovered long narrow dust filaments which surround and feed these black holes in the centres of galaxies, and which could be the natural cause of the darkening of the centres of many galaxies when their nuclear black holes are active. The results of this study have recently been published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS).

Using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA) in Chile, the scientists have been able to obtain a direct visualization of the process of nuclear feeding of a black hole in the galaxy NGC 1566 by these filaments. The combined images show a snapshot in which one can see how the dust filaments separate, and then go directly towards the centre of the galaxy, where they circulate and rotate in a spiral around the black hole before being swallowed by it.

"This group of telescopes has given us a completely new perspective of a supermassive black hole, thanks to the imaging at high angular resolution and the panoramic visualization of its surroundings, because it lets us follow the disappearance of the dust filaments as they fall into the black hole," explains Almudena Prieto, the first author on the paper.

The study is the result of the long-term PARSEC project of the IAC, which aims to understand how supermassive black holes wake up from their long lives of hibernation, and after a process in which they accrete material from their surroundings, they become the most powerful objects in the Universe.

Part of this work was carried out within the Master s thesis in Astrophysics of the University of La Laguna of Jakub Nadolny, carried out at the IAC within the PARSEC project. Researchers Mar Mezcua and Juan A. Fernández Ontiveros were also advisers to this work, while they had PARSEC postdoctoral contracts at the IAC.

Materials provided by . Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). "Astronomers discover how to feed a black hole." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 2021. .

Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). "Astronomers discover how to feed a black hole." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210729143436.htm (accessed July 29, 2021).

advertisement

1

June 19, 2020 — Astronomers have identified periodic gamma-ray emissions from 11 active galaxies, paving the way for future studies of unconventional galaxies that might harbor two supermassive black holes at their ...

Jan. 6, 2020 — Studies with the VLA indicate that roughly half of the massive black holes in dwarf galaxies are not in the centers of those galaxies. This gives astronomers new insights into the conditions in which ...

Dec. 18, 2018 — Researchers have used observations from the ALMA radio observatory to measure, for the first time, the strength of magnetic fields near two supermassive black holes at the centers of an important ...

Oct. 30, 2017 — The outskirts of spiral galaxies like our own could be crowded with colliding black holes of massive proportions and a prime location for scientists hunting the sources of gravitational waves, said ...
Read more on sciencedaily.com
News Topics :
Similar Articles :
Science
The researchers Juan A. Fernández Ontiveros, of the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica INAF in Rome and Teo Muñoz Darias, of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias IAC , have written an article in...
Technology
An international team of astronomers has identified one of the rarest known classes of gamma ray emitting galaxies, called BL Lacertae, within the first 2 billion years of the age of...
Science
An international team of scientists led from the Centre for Astrobiology CAB, CSIC INTA , with participation from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias IAC , has used the Gran Telescopio Canarias GTC...
Science
According to the latest cosmological models, large spiral galaxies such as the Milky Way grew by absorbing smaller galaxies, by a sort of galactic cannibalism. Evidence for this is given...
Technology
Historically most scientists thought that once a satellite galaxy has passed close by its higher mass parent galaxy its star formation would stop because the larger galaxy would remove the...