Hubble Captures a Black Hole That is Forming Stars, Not Absorbing Them

The Hubble Space Telescope has observed a black hole at the center of a dwarf galaxy that doesn’t behave like the destructive monsters they are often portrayed as. Instead, this black hole is creating stars rather than absorbing them.

The black hole is located at the center of the dwarf galaxy Henize 2-10, which is 30 million light-years away in the southern constellation of Pyxis. According to NASA, the black hole appears to be contributing to a “firestorm” of new star formation in the galaxy.

A galaxy 1/10 the size of the Milky Way

Ten years ago, Henize 2-10 was the focus of debate over whether dwarf galaxies are home to black holes proportional to the supermassive holes at the center of large galaxies. Now, since the black hole has been spotted at its core and isn’t behaving as expected, Henize 2-10 (which contains one-tenth the number of stars in the Milky Way) may play a big role in figuring out where supermassive black holes originate.

Amy Raines published the first evidence of a black hole in the Haines 2-10 galaxy in 2011 and is the principal investigator on these new observations published in the January 19 issue of Galactic. temper nature.

“From the beginning, I knew that something unusual and special was happening at Henize 2-10, and now Hubble has provided a very clear picture of the relationship between the black hole and the neighboring star-forming region located 230 light-years from the black hole,” says Wren.

Henness dwarf galaxy 2-10
Henness 2-10 | Image credits: NASA, ESA, Zachary Schutte (XGI), Amy Reines (XGI); Image processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

The opposite of expected behaviour

The way stars are created is unusual and different from what is observed in large galaxies. Gas can be seen circling the black hole at the center of the Hennes 2-10 black hole and then colliding with a dense “cocoon” of gas within the galaxy.

“Hubble’s spectroscopy shows that the outflow was moving about a million miles per hour, hitting the dense gas like a garden hose hitting a pile of dirt and spreading out. Nascent star clusters propagate in the path of outflow propagation, their ages as calculated by Hubble.”

This is the opposite of what we see in large galaxies, where material falling toward the black hole is moved away by surrounding magnetic fields forming batches of smoldering plasma moving at close to the speed of light. Gas clouds captured in this path are heated beyond their ability to cool down again and form stars. But the gentle flow of gas from the black hole at Henize 2-10 is compact enough to facilitate star formation.

Withdrawal from the central region of Henize 2-10
The withdrawal of the central region of the Henize 2-10 dwarf starburst galaxy traces an outflow, or bridge of hot gas 230 light-years long, connecting the galaxy’s supermassive black hole and star-forming region. Hubble data on the velocity of the outflow from the black hole, as well as the age of young stars, suggest a causal relationship between the two. A few million years ago, a stream of hot gas collided with a dense cloud of a stellar nursery and spread out, like water from a hose that crashed into a mound of dirt. Young star clusters are now aligned perpendicular to the outflow, revealing their propagation path. | Credits: NASA, ESA, Zachary Schott (XGI), Amy Raines (XGI); Image processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

“Only 30 million light-years away, Henize 2-10 is close enough that Hubble was able to capture images and spectral evidence of the black hole’s outflow very clearly. An additional surprise was that, rather than suppressing star formation, the outflow was giving birth to stars.” new,” says Zachary Schott, a graduate student of Raines and lead author of the new study.

“Hubble’s astonishing resolution clearly shows a key-like pattern at gas velocities, which we can fit to the model of the outflow, or oscillating, of a black hole. A supernova remnant would not have this pattern, so our effective evidence that this is a black hole is,” he adds. Rains.

One step towards solving the persistent puzzle

How supermassive black holes formed is still a mystery to astronomers, and the relationship between Henize 2-10 and its black hole could help provide clues.

“The era of the first black holes isn’t something we’ve been able to see, so it really has become the big question: Where did they come from? Dwarf galaxies might retain some memory of a black hole seeding scenario that would otherwise be lost in time and space,” explains Rains.

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