Recent astronomical studies found that black holes can send winds powerful enough to impede the birth of stars.
The results were obtained after aiming two space telescopes towards an enormous black hole, with a mass equal to that of a billion Suns, in order to determine the strenght of its projected winds. The telescopes used were a XMM-Newton and a Nustar, under European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA management. The first type is used to record high-energy X-rays while the second views low-energy X-rays.
This study also cemented the idea that winds blow in an outward manner and in every possible direction. This idea has been questioned in the past, but now scientists have enough arguments in favor of it.
Another conclusion they managed to reach was that such powerful winds can affect the way its galaxy evolves.
Professor Fiona Harrison from the Institute of Technology in California and also the lead Nustar investigator explained how ”black holes in the center of galaxies can feed on matter, and this process can produce winds”. Based on this information, scientists speculated that winds can influence the growth of galaxies.
The two telescopes were used to simultaneously record different light wavelengths coming from the PDS 456 black hole, situated 2 billion light-years away. The PDS 456 is considered a quasar as it shines with many types of light.
The XMM-Newton telescope detected a wind coming from the PDS 456 that was heading towards the Earth. This conclusion was based on the fact that iron atoms were carried by powerful gusts that blocked X-rays in a specific way.
The team calculated that the wind was traveling with a speed equal to one third of the speed of light.
With the help of the Nustar high-energy telescope, the team identified a different iron trace that was “scattered to the sides”, an aspect that showed how the wind “rushes out in an almost spherical blast”.
So by determining the speed, shape and magnitude of the winds, the team was able to examine how powerful these gusts are. The strength of such a black hole can send winds about ten times the mass of the Sun and with energy a trillion times more powerful than what our Sun emits.
The paper was published in Science magazine.
Image Source: University Herald