(ORDO NEWS) — Images from the Hubble telescope have shown that the black hole at the center of the dwarf galaxy Henize 2-10 is creating stars instead of destroying them. The discovery could be the key to understanding the origin of supermassive black holes in the early universe.
Black holes appear to us as destructive objects, absorbing everything that falls into their sphere of influence, including light. However, new data from the Hubble Space Telescope has shown that this is not always the case. The telescope took pictures of the black hole at the center of the dwarf galaxy Henize 2-10, which is creating stars instead of devouring them. An article about the discovery was published in the journal Nature.
The Henize 2-10 galaxy lies 30 million light-years from Earth and contains ten times fewer stars than the Milky Way. It has attracted the attention of astronomers in the past, sparking a debate about whether all dwarf galaxies contain small black holes at their centers, just as large galaxies orbit supermassive black holes.
Some scientists have suggested that there is indeed a black hole at the center of Henize 2-10. Others believed that there is a supernova remnant. New images taken by Hubble confirmed the first hypothesis.
Surprisingly, the corkscrew-like gas is flowing from the black hole to a nearby star-forming region 230 light-years away. The speed of this flow is 1.6 million kilometers per hour – very little for the material coming from the vicinity of a black hole. Probably, the flow of matter met a dense gas cloud and spread over it, stimulating star formation. Clusters of young stars now line up perpendicular to the flow, marking its spread.
This effect is the opposite of what is observed in larger galaxies, where matter falling into a black hole is carried away by its magnetic fields, forming superhot plasma jets moving at close to the speed of light. Gas clouds on their way are heated to such temperatures that star formation becomes impossible.
Black holes in dwarf galaxies may hold clues to the emergence of supermassive black holes in the early universe. One hypothesis is that all black holes formed as a result of the gravitational collapse of stars, and those that collected enough material became supermassive.
The other suggests the presence in the young Universe of special conditions that contributed to the appearance of these objects. In addition, supermassive black holes could be formed as a result of the collapse of a dense star cluster, the total mass of which was sufficient for their appearance.
Dwarf galaxies such as Henize 2-10 have maintained their size throughout their history without growing or merging with other galaxies, so they may mirror the fate of black holes in the early universe when they first started to form and grow.
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