Black holes' ferocious winds 'restrict' growth of galaxies

A new research has revealed that black holes' intense winds stunt the galaxies' growth and prevent new stars from forming.

ANI| Updated: Feb 20, 2015, 12:22 PM IST
Black holes' ferocious winds 'restrict' growth of galaxies

Washington: A new research has revealed that black holes' intense winds stunt the galaxies' growth and prevent new stars from forming.

Using the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (link is external) (NuSTAR), researchers were able to use the X-ray spectra of an extremely luminous black hole (quasar PDS 456) to detect a nearly spherical stream of highly ionized gas streaming out of it.

The discovery allowed astronomers to measure, for the first time, the strength of ultra-fast black hole winds and show that they are mighty enough to affect the fate of their host galaxies.

The evolution of galaxies is connected to the growth of supermassive black holes in their centers. During the quasar phase, a huge luminosity is released as matter falls onto the black hole, and radiation-driven winds can transfer most of this energy back to the host galaxy.

Co-author Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of Technology said that they know that black holes in the centers of galaxies can feed on matter and this process can produce winds, which is thought to regulate the growth of the galaxies. Knowing the speed, shape and size of the winds, they can figure out how powerful they are.

In the new study, astronomers determined that PDS 456, an extremely luminous active black hole, or quasar, has winds that carry more energy every second than what is emitted by more than 1 trillion suns.

Bill Craig of University of California, Berkeley said that by looking at this huge spherical outflow, they can see a mechanism to explain the correlation between black hole and galaxy formation.

The new report demonstrates that a supermassive black hole and the galaxy that nurtures it are connected by high-speed winds. As the black holes bulk up in size, their winds push vast amounts of matter outward through the galaxy, which ultimately stops new stars from forming.

The results appear in the journal Science.