Black holes are often known for consuming stars and gas. Now researchers have found a huge black hole in the center of a nearby galaxy that is “burping” massive waves of gas after gulping up the nearby matter. The release of gas is like burping after a large meal. Astronomers believe this phenomenon might have played an important role in shaping the early universe.
NGC 5195 is merging with The Whirlpool
The gas waves were detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope near the heart of a small galaxy called NGC 5195, which is located 27 million light years away. The NGC 5195 is slowly merging with its giant neighboring galaxy NGC 5194 or “The Whirlpool.” The X-ray images show how the gas waves are sweeping cooler hydrogen gas in front of them. Findings of the study were presented at the 227th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).
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Marie Machacek of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CFA), the co-author of the study, said it was a “feedback” between a black hole and its host galaxy. The feedback “keeps galaxies from becoming too large.” Astronomer Eric Schlegel of the University of Texas said the black hole probably gorged on gas that was gravitationally catapulted by the merger of two galaxies.
Proof that the black hole was burping
A related observation from Kitt Peak National Observatory revealed a very thin region of cool hydrogen gas just in front of the outermost wave. The hot gas that generated the X-ray emissions plunged into the cooler regions like a snowplow. The patch of hydrogen in a thin shape matching the arc of hot gas is proof that the black hole was belching instead of gulping.
Scientists calculated that it was an ancient burp. The inner wave of hot gas took more than three million years to reach its current position, while the outer one took about six million years. If supermassive black holes burp often, it might help explain why elliptical galaxies lack active star formation.