Hubble: Galaxy Star Birth Regulated by Black-Hole Fountain

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Hubble: Galaxy Star Birth Regulated by Black-Hole Fountain

Post by bystander » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:06 pm

Hubble Finds Evidence of Galaxy Star Birth Regulated by Black-Hole Fountain
NASA | GSFC | STScI | HubbleSite | 2015 Aug 06
[img3="Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Donahue (Michigan State), and Y. Li (Michigan)"]http://imgsrc.hubblesite.org/hu/db/imag ... _print.jpg[/img3][hr][/hr]
Astronomers have uncovered a unique process for how the universe's largest elliptical galaxies continue making stars long after their peak years of star birth. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope's exquisite high resolution and ultraviolet-light sensitivity allowed the astronomers to see brilliant knots of hot, blue stars forming along the jets of active black holes found in the centers of giant elliptical galaxies.

Combining Hubble data with observations from a suite of ground-based and space telescopes, two independent teams found that the black hole, jets, and newborn stars are all parts of a self-regulating cycle. High-energy jets shooting from the black hole heat a halo of surrounding gas, controlling the rate at which the gas cools and falls into the galaxy.

"Think of the gas surrounding a galaxy as an atmosphere," explained the lead of the first study, Megan Donahue of Michigan State University. "That atmosphere can contain material in different states, just like our own atmosphere has gas, clouds, and rain. What we are seeing is a process like a thunderstorm. As the jets propel gas outward from the center of the galaxy, some of that gas cools and precipitates into cold clumps that fall back toward the galaxy's center like raindrops."

"The 'raindrops' eventually cool enough to become star-forming clouds of cold molecular gas, and the far-ultraviolet capabilities of Hubble allowed us to directly observe these 'showers' of star formation," explained the lead of the second study, Grant Tremblay of Yale University. "We know that these showers are linked to the jets because they're found in filaments and tendrils that wrap around the jets or hug the edges of giant bubbles that the jets have inflated," said Tremblay. "And they end up making a swirling 'puddle' of star-forming gas around the central black hole."

But what should be a monsoon of raining gas is reduced to a mere drizzle by the black hole. While some outwardly flowing gas will cool, the black hole heats the rest of the gas around a galaxy, which prevents the whole gaseous envelope from cooling more quickly. The entire cycle is a self-regulating feedback mechanism, like the thermostat on a house's heating and cooling system, because the "puddle" of gas around the black hole provides the fuel that powers the jets. If too much cooling happens, the jets become more powerful and add more heat. And if the jets add too much heat, they reduce their fuel supply and eventually weaken. ...

Sorting through thickets of stars in elliptical galaxies far, far away
Yale University | 2015 Aug 06

Ultraviolet Morphologies and Star-Formation Rates of CLASH Brightest Cluster Galaxies - Megan Donahue et al Far Ultraviolet Morphology of Star Forming Filaments in Cool Core Brightest Cluster Galaxies - Grant R. Tremblay et al
http://asterisk.apod.com/viewtopic.php?t=34514
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