Supermassive Black Holes Are Outpacing Star Formation In Massive Galaxies


Scientists found that supermassive black holes located in massive galaxies grow at a faster rate.

The insatiable hunger of supermassive black holes is more apparent in larger galaxies, as these massive behemoths are able to grow faster and even exceed the formation speed of a soon-to-be star, according to two new studies.

Previous theories suggested that supermassive black holes would grow in an equal manner with their host galaxies. These giant voids have millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun at their centers.

The findings in the first study were based on data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. According to the study, black holes in massive galaxies have grown much faster than those in smaller ones.

“We are trying to reconstruct a race that started billions of years ago,” said Guang Yang, lead author of the study and a graduate student in astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State.

With the data collected, Yang and his team managed to study the growth rate of black holes in galaxies in the distant corners of the universe. They calculated the ratio between a supermassive black hole’s growth and the growth rate of its host galaxy. Instead of the equal growth theory, researchers discovered that supermassive black holes growth ratio is much higher than that of its host galaxy. The opposite can be said about massive black holes located in small galaxies.

As to why this phenomenon is exclusive to larger galaxies, co-author, Verne M. Willaman, supposes that massive galaxies are more efficient in feeding cold gas to their central supermassive black holes than smaller galaxies.

The second study was led by Mar Mezcua of the Institute of Space Sciences in Spain. Here, researchers looked at 72 galaxies in the center of galaxy clusters located at around 3.5 billion light-years from Earth.

By using X-ray data from Chandra and radio data from the Australia Telescope Compact Array, the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array and Very Long Baseline Array, the researchers discovered that black holes outpaced the growth of their host galaxies.

Almost a half of the black holes studied had masses of over 10 billion suns each, according to the second study.

Both Yang’s and Mezcua’s research papers were published in the journal, Astrophysics.

Image Source: WikipediaCommons


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