ALMA: Black-Hole-Powered Jets Forge Fuel for Star Formation

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ALMA: Black-Hole-Powered Jets Forge Fuel for Star Formation

Post by bystander » Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:08 pm

Black-Hole-Powered Jets Forge Fuel for Star Formation
ALMA | NRAO | 2017 Feb 14
[c][imghover= ... a_nrao.jpg] ... b_nrao.jpg[/imghover]Composite image showing how powerful radio jets from the supermassive black hole at
the center of a galaxy in the Phoenix Cluster inflated huge "bubbles" in the hot, ionized
gas surrounding the galaxy (the cavities inside the blue region imaged by NASA's
Chandra X-ray observatory). Hugging the outside of these bubbles, ALMA discovered an
unexpected trove of cold gas, the fuel for star formation (red). The background image
is from the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) H.Russell, et al.;
NASA/ESA Hubble; NASA/CXC/MIT/M.McDonald et al.; B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF).

Mouseover: ALMA image of cold molecular gas at the heart of the Phoenix Cluster. The
filaments extending from the center hug enormous radio bubbles created by jets from a
supermassive black hole. This discovery sheds light on the complex relationship between
a supermassive black hole and its host galaxy. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO),
H. Russell et al.; B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered a surprising connection between a supermassive black hole and the galaxy where it resides.

Powerful radio jets from the black hole – which normally suppress star formation – are stimulating the production of cold gas in the galaxy's extended halo of hot gas. This newly identified supply of cold, dense gas could eventually fuel future star birth as well as feed the black hole itself.

The researchers used ALMA to study a galaxy at the heart of the Phoenix Cluster, an uncommonly crowded collection of galaxies about 5.7 billion light-years from Earth.

The central galaxy in this cluster harbors a supermassive black hole that is in the process of devouring star-forming gas, which fuels a pair of powerful jets that erupt from the black hole in opposite directions into intergalactic space. Astronomers refer to this type of black-hole powered system as an active galactic nucleus (AGN).

Earlier research with NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory revealed that the jets from this AGN are carving out a pair of giant "radio bubbles," huge cavities in the hot, diffuse plasma that surrounds the galaxy.

These expanding bubbles should create conditions that are too inhospitable for the surrounding hot gas to cool and condense, which are essential steps for future star formation.

The latest ALMA observations, however, reveal long filaments of cold molecular gas condensing around the outer edges of the radio bubbles. These filaments extend up to 82,000 light-years from either side of the AGN. They collectively contain enough material to make about 10 billion suns. ...

Self-Made Stars
Massachusetts Institute of Technology | 2017 Feb 14

Astronomers observe black hole producing cold, star-making fuel from hot plasma jets and bubbles. ...

Alma Observations of Massive Molecular Gas Filaments Encasing Radio Bubbles in the Phoenix Cluster - H.R. Russell et al
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