Press Release

"Wind from the black-hole accretion disk driving a molecular outflow in an active galaxy"

F. Tombesi, M. Meléndez, S. Veilleux, J. N. Reeves, E. González-Alfonso & C. S. Reynolds Nature 519, 436–438 (26 March 2015) doi:10.1038/nature14261

Abstract Powerful winds driven by active galactic nuclei are often thought to affect the evolution of both supermassive black holes and their host galaxies, quenching star formation and explaining the close relationship between black holes and galaxies. Recent observations of large-scale molecular outflows in ultraluminous infrared galaxies support this quasar-feedback idea, because they directly trace the gas from which stars form. Theoretical models suggest that these outflows originate as energy-conserving flows driven by fast accretion-disk winds. Proposed connections between large-scale molecular outflows and accretion-disk activity in ultraluminous galaxies were incomplete because no accretion-disk wind had been detected. Conversely, studies of powerful accretion-disk winds have until now focused only on X-ray observations of local Seyfert galaxies and a few higher-redshift quasars. Here we report observations of a powerful accretion-disk wind with a mildly relativistic velocity (a quarter that of light) in the X-ray spectrum of IRAS F11119+3257, a nearby (redshift 0.189) optically classified type 1 ultraluminous infrared galaxy hosting a powerful molecular outflow. The active galactic nucleus is responsible for about 80 per cent of the emission, with a quasar-like luminosity of 1.5 × 10^46 ergs per second. The energetics of these two types of wide-angle outflows is consistent with the energy-conserving mechanism that is the basis of the quasar feedback in active galactic nuclei that lack powerful radio jets (such jets are an alternative way to drive molecular outflows).

Suzaku, Herschel Link a Black-hole 'Wind' to a Galactic Gush of Star-forming Gas

By combining observations from the Japan-led Suzaku X-ray satellite and the European Space Agency's infrared Herschel Space Observatory, scientists have connected a fierce "wind" produced near a galaxy's monster black hole to an outward torrent of cold gas a thousand light-years across. The finding validates a long-suspected feedback mechanism enabling a supermassive black hole to influence the evolution of its host galaxy. Left : This artist's rendering shows a galaxy being cleared of interstellar gas, the building blocks of new stars. New X-ray observations by Suzaku have identified a wind emanating from the black hole's accretion disk (inset) that ultimately drives such outflows. Credits: ESA/ATG Medialab Link

Supermassive Black Hole Clears Star-making Gas From Galaxy’s Core

Many nearby galaxies blast huge, wide-angled outpourings of material from their center, ejecting enough gas and dust to build more than a thousand stars the size of our sun every year. Astronomers have sought the driving force behind these massive molecular outflows, and now a team led by University of Maryland scientists has found an answer. Left : A red-filter image of IRAS F11119+3257 (inset) from the University of Hawaii's 2.2-meter telescope shows faint features that may be tidal debris, a sign of a galaxy merger. Background: A wider view of the region from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Link

Los agujeros negros gobiernan el destino de las galaxias

Con ayuda de telescopios espaciales, científicos han corroborado las predicciones teóricas que señalan que los agujeros negros supermasivos tienen el poder para determinar la evolución de las galaxias e inhabilitarlas para formar estrellas. Left : Los agujeros negros supermasivos en el centro de las galaxias son de hecho tan poderosos que pueden influir en las galaxias enteras y la formación de estrellas. Crédito: Crédito: ESA/ATG medialab Link