Mystery solved: Astronomers crack mystery of runaway supermassive black hole

Mystery solved: Astronomers crack mystery of runaway supermassive black hole
An artist’s impression of a runaway supermassive black hole. IAC researchers have found that an unusually thin star system may actually be an edge-on galaxy, rather than a runaway supermassive black hole (NASA, ESA, Leah Hustak (STScI)

Over the years, the astronomical community has debated a A rare observation Produced by a NASA telescope.

Now, in a study conducted by a team of researchers at the Instituto de Astrophysica de Canarias (IAC), a Star system Unusually thin, recently discovered Hubble Space TelescopeMay be An edge-on galaxy and not a runaway black hole.

Is it a mysterious path of stars that formed earlier? 8 billion years Recently discovered by a super telescope that has been in space for more than 30 years, it has been a challenge for various research teams. It is about the same size as the Milky Way, and this long and narrow structure has led to various explanations for its appearance.

The Hubble Space Telescope (NASA) discovered the mysterious path of stars that formed 8 billion years ago.

According to one A controversial initial hypothesis, This trail of stars may be the result of the passing of a A supermassive black hole through a A large gas cloud. This idea quickly fired the imagination of the astronomical community because it required a large complex of exceptional circumstances.

For this reason, many scientific groups continued Explores different scenarios Less glamorous is the way these observations can be explained by the famous NASA Space Telescope.

But a recent study Published In a special issue Astronomy & AstrophysicsThe IAC researchers concluded that this unusual star structure could be interpreted as a galaxy. These types of galaxies are also called galaxies Thin or flat galaxiesThey are relatively common.

The relation between a galaxy’s rotational speed and its stellar mass (grey dots). This is the well-known Tully-Fisher relation that characterizes galaxies, (which is the basis for measuring the distances to galaxies from their observed rotation velocities and apparent luminosities). The material is in perfect proportion as expected for any galactic disc. Credit: IAC

The discovery contradicts the original interpretation that it is a supermassive black hole, leaving a trail of stars in its wake.

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“The motions, size and number of stars are consistent with those observed in galaxies in the local universe,” explained the astronomer. Jorge Sanchez Almeida, IAC researcher and first author of the article. “So relieved to have this mystery solved The new proposed scenario is much simpler. In a way it’s a shame, because runaway black holes are expected to exist, and may have been the first to be observed.”

To support the hypothesis of a galaxy-based interpretation, the team compared A mysterious system with a well-known local constellation Without the bulge, IC5249 has a similar mass of stars, and it finds remarkable agreement.

Above: An image of the object as observed by the Hubble Space Telescope. shows emission in the ultraviolet region of the spectrum. Middle: Ultraviolet image of a local galaxy without the bulge and seen edge-on (IC 5249). The similarities are obvious. Bottom: The same galaxy seen in the visible part of the spectrum, IC 5249. The spatial scales of the three images are the same (Credit: HST)

In the words Miria Montes, “When we analyzed the velocities of these distant star formations, we realized that they were similar to those obtained from the rotation of galaxies, so we decided to compare them to a nearby, more massive galaxy,” said the IAC researcher and co-author of the paper. and found that they were remarkably similar.

We also look at the relationship between the mass of the putative galaxy and its maximum rotation speed, we discovered that it is indeed a galaxy that behaves like a galaxy,” said Ignacio Trujillo, an IAC researcher who participated in the study. “This is an interesting object because it is a massive galaxy at a great distance from Earth, where most galaxies are small. ” he concluded.

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