Stars are born near a killer black hole

(ORDO NEWS) — In the center of almost every galaxy there is a supermassive black hole that engulfs the surrounding matter. Matter falling on the black hole heats up and intensely emits light and other electromagnetic waves.

Sometimes the central black hole eats so luxuriously that the galactic nucleus turns into a quasar – the most powerful source of radiation in the universe. However, the presence of such a hot “heart” is not good for the galaxy. The radiation from the quasar heats up the surrounding gas and exerts tremendous pressure on it. As a result, the shining monster sweeps out a significant part of the substance from the galaxy, and heats up the other part. As a result, the birth of stars, which requires a sufficiently dense and cold gas, stops.

Not so long ago, scientists believed that star formation stops almost immediately after the formation of a quasar. But in recent years, a number of quasars have been discovered, in whose host galaxies the reserves of cold gas have not yet been depleted, and the birth of new luminaries continues. Astronomers called them cold quasars. However, each such object still remains a kind of curiosity.

“These [observations] show us that the growth of active black holes does not stop the birth of stars overnight. This goes against all current scientific predictions,” says co-author of the new paper, Allison Kirkpatrick of the University of Kansas. “It forces us to rethink our theories. evolution of galaxies”.

Some time ago, Kirkpatrick and her colleagues discovered another galaxy with a cold quasar. According to a press release from the study, this is the first time such an object has been studied in such detail to calculate the growth rate of a black hole and the rate of star formation in its host galaxy.

We are talking about the object CQ4479, located more than five billion light-years from Earth. It was observed with the SOFIA infrared telescope.

The data obtained allowed us to conclude that in the last hundred million years, stars there were formed at a shock rate: about one hundred solar masses per year.

According to experts’ calculations, this process will continue, and the total mass of stars will have time to triple before the radiation of the quasar stops star formation. By the way, the mass of the central black hole will triple during this time.

Let’s make a reservation that the expression “the last one hundred million years” in this case means “one hundred million years before the moment when the light of the quasar CQ4479 was emitted.” It took these rays more than five billion years to reach Earth’s telescopes. So, in fact, we are talking about an ancient and long past past.

What surprised scientists was the rate of star formation next to the “star killer”. They are about a hundred times higher than today’s (this time literally today’s) Milky Way.

Now the researchers want to find out if cold quasars are an exception or a typical, albeit short-lived, stage in the evolution of ordinary quasars. Future observations will help to clarify this question.

The details of the study are described in a scientific article published in the Astrophysical Journal.

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