Key Takeaways:

  1. MIT researchers, leveraging data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope, pinpointed the unique conditions within the Phoenix Cluster conducive to stellar birth.
  2. Unlike typical supermassive black holes, the one within the Phoenix Cluster exhibits reduced potency, allowing for the cooling of gas clouds and initiating the star formation process.
  3. Previous attempts to find galaxy clusters with robust star nurseries near supermassive black holes had been unsuccessful until the breakthrough in the Phoenix Cluster.
  4. The anomalous conditions within the Phoenix Cluster result in the conversion of gas into stars at an astonishing rate, highlighting the significant impact of black hole dynamics on cosmic evolution.
The Phoenix Cluster – a grouping of distant galaxies pictured above – is birthing stars that outpaces the Milky Way by a ratio of 500 to 1 every year. Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/G.Schellenberger et al.; Optical:SDSS

NASA has made a discovery regarding a supermassive black hole that has been actively giving the birth of stars at ‘furious rate’. This finding holds significant promise in unraveling the enigmatic origins of gaseous celestial bodies.

Utilizing data gleaned from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope, a team of researchers from MIT has focused their attention on a remote galaxy cluster known as the Phoenix Cluster. Within this cluster, they have identified a supermassive black hole exhibiting conditions conducive to the formation of stars.

In contrast to typical supermassive black holes situated at the hearts of galaxies, the one residing within the Phoenix Cluster is notably less potent. This diminished potency allows vast gas clouds within the galaxy to cool down, initiating the process of stellar formation.

Lead researcher Michael McDonald, an astronomer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), remarked, ‘The discovery of this phenomenon has been a longstanding pursuit among astronomers.’

He further elucidated, ‘The Phoenix Cluster serves as a testament to the fact that in certain scenarios, the energy emitted by a black hole can facilitate cooling, resulting in profound consequences.’

NASA’s quest for galaxy clusters boasting prolific star nurseries within their central galaxies – those nearest to a central supermassive black hole – has spanned decades but remained fruitless until now.

In previously examined galaxies, the superheated gas encircling their cores underwent cooling due to exposure to X-rays. However, this process was subsequently disrupted by bursts of energy emanating from the central supermassive black hole, hindering the formation of stars.

Co-author Brian McNamara of the University of Waterloo in Canada offered an analogy, stating, ‘Picture operating an air-conditioner in your home on a scorching day, only to ignite a wood fire. Your living space cannot adequately cool until the fire is extinguished.’

He continued, ‘Likewise, when a black hole’s heating mechanism is deactivated within a galaxy cluster, the gas is able to cool.’

The extraordinary conditions identified within the Phoenix Cluster have proven remarkably efficient, resulting in the conversion of gas into approximately 500 solar masses annually, a stark contrast to the Milky Way’s rate of approximately one solar mass per year.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments