With the use of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, a supermassive black hole was found to emit large amounts of gas in the form of two waves. This phenomenon was described by NASA’s astronomers as an act similar to burping, with the back hole undergoing it after consuming a nearby star or cosmic matter.
The supermassive black hole in question is located in the center of the NGC 5195 galaxy, which has a relatively small size. It is currently in the process of merging with a much larger galaxy commonly known as “The Whirlpool”, or NGC 5194, due to its spiral structure. Both of these galaxies are almost 26 million light years away from Earth, in the closest galactic sector to the Milky Way, the Messier 51 galactic system.
Although this phenomenon is believed to have been a common event during the early stages of our Universe, it is the first time we were able to witness one as such a close range from us. The event consisted of two massive waves of x-ray radiation being flung outward from the center of the black hole.
These two waves are similar to bone fossils, reminiscent of two previous massive blasts of material that got expelled from NGC 5195’s black hole. By traversing space, the first wave acts as a sort of snow plow, carrying with it large quantities of hydrogen gas from the center of the galaxy.
This accumulation of gas will eventually compact itself and lead to the creation of new stars. This is deemed of high importance due to the fact that up to this point, scientists did not have conclusive proof regarding the way in which a black hole affects its surrounding galaxy. This phenomenon is called galactic feedback and it shows how black holes are not only destroyers, they also help in the creation of new celestial bodies.
The fact that this hydrogen gas was located near the edge of the wave going forward, in the form of a thin strip, also made scientists understand that these waves were actually going further away from the black hole instead of going in. Some parties were skeptical before this fact was known, believing that the waves were actually in the process of being engulfed by the supermassive black hole.
The first wave was released between 3 to 6 million years ago while the second came in at around 1 or 2 million years ago, according to astronomers’ calculations. They were created due to the collision with NGC 5194 that fed them large amounts of matter in the form of interstellar gas and dust. But what currently interests researchers is why these waves have stopped near the outer rim of the smaller galaxy, instead of further advancing towards the spiral one.
By further investigating this phenomenon, scientists will be able to better understand the evolutionary processes that occur all around us in the universe. By observing how black holes can aid in the creation of stars, they will also be able to shed light on these mysterious celestial structures as well.
By seeing how the black hole was found to emit large amounts of gas, astronomers may even come to a better theory regarding the so-called “white holes” that act as the outlet of a black hole, expelling all of the matter sucked in by the latter mentioned celestial body. Only time will tell where this information will lead us in regards to our knowledge about black holes.