Astronomers Discover How to Feed a Supermassive Black Hole

Galaxy NGC 1566

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The image reveals the procedure of nuclear feeding of a great void in the galaxy NGC 1566, and how the dust filaments, which surround the active nucleus, are caught and turn in a spiral around the great void up until it swallows them. Credit: European Southern Observatory (ESO)

The great voids at the centers of galaxies are the most strange things in the Universe, not just due to the fact that of the big amounts of product within them, countless times the mass of the Sun, however due to the fact that of the exceptionally thick concentration of matter in a volume no larger than that of our Solar System. When they record matter from their environments they end up being active, and can send massive amounts of energy from the capture procedure, although it is difficult to identify the great void throughout these capture episodes, which are not regular.

However, a research study led by the scientist Almudena Prieto, of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), has actually found long narrow dust filaments which surround and feed these great voids in the centers of galaxies, and which might be the natural reason for the darkening of the centers of numerous galaxies when their nuclear great voids are active. The outcomes of this research study have actually just recently been released in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS).

Using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA) in Chile, the researchers have actually had the ability to get a direct visualization of the procedure of nuclear feeding of a great void in the galaxy NGC 1566 by these filaments. The combined images reveal a photo in which one can see how the dust filaments different, and after that go straight towards the center of the galaxy, where they distribute and turn in a spiral around the great void prior to being swallowed by it.

“This group of telescopes has given us a completely new perspective of a supermassive black hole, thanks to the imaging at high angular resolution and the panoramic visualization of its surroundings, because it lets us follow the disappearance of the dust filaments as they fall into the black hole,” discusses Almudena Prieto, the very first author on the paper.

The research study is the outcome of the long-lasting PARSEC task of the IAC, which intends to comprehend how supermassive great voids get up from their long lives of hibernation, and after a procedure in which they accrete product from their environments, they end up being the most effective things in the Universe.

Reference: “Dust in the central parsecs of unobscured AGN: more challenges to the torus” by M. Almudena Prieto, Jakub Nadolny, Juan A. Fernández-Ontiveros and Mar Mezcua, 16 June 2021, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stab1704

Part of this work was performed within the Master’s thesis in Astrophysics of the University of La Laguna of Jakub Nadolny, performed at the IAC within the PARSEC task. Researchers Mar Mezcua and Juan A. Fernández Ontiveros were likewise consultants to this work, while they had PARSEC postdoctoral agreements at the IAC.