An unusually large number of growing black holes in the Spiderweb protocluster of galaxies

(ORDO NEWS) — Usually, a spider web is associated with a prey that has fallen into it, which will soon be eaten by an insidious predator that has set a trap.

However, in the case of the Spiderweb galaxy protocluster (“Web”), its constituent objects are by no means like helpless victims – but rather, they themselves are actively absorbing matter from the surrounding space and growing rapidly, according to a new study conducted using an X-ray space observatory Chandra (“Chandra”) NASA.

The Spiderweb Galaxy, officially known as J1140-2629, got its name because it resembles a web when observed in the optical range.

Located about 10.6 billion light-years from Earth, the Spiderweb galaxy lies at the center of the protocluster of galaxies, a group of galaxies growing in a cloud of gas that will eventually become a cluster of galaxies.

The composite image shown here combines optical images taken with the Subaru Telescope (red, green, and white) and X-ray images taken with NASA’s Chandra (purple).

Most of the “clumps” observed in the optical range are protocluster galaxies, including 14 objects found in this new, deep image taken by the Chandra Observatory.

These X-ray sources reveal the presence of material falling at high speeds into supermassive black holes located in the central regions of cluster galaxies, the masses of which reach hundreds of millions of solar masses. We see the Spiderweb protocluster in what is commonly referred to as “cosmic noon.” Scientists have found

However, even by the high standards of this active period in the evolution of the Universe, the growth of the Spiderweb protocluster proceeded at a tremendous rate.

These 14 Chandra sources show that about a quarter of the most massive galaxies contain actively growing black holes. This is 5-20 times higher than the expected values ​​for galaxies of similar age and mass.

According to these results, environmental factors are responsible for a large number of rapidly growing black holes in the galaxies of the Spiderweb protocluster.

One reason could be that the high rate of collisions and interactions between galaxies causes gas to be pushed towards black holes, resulting in the absorption of a large amount of material.

An alternative explanation suggests that the protocluster contains large amounts of cold gas, which is more readily absorbed by black holes than hot gas (this cold gas will eventually become hot gas when a protocluster of galaxies becomes a cluster).


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