There comes a point in the life of every galaxy, astronomers believe, when the galaxy ejects much of its gas, but scientists are not sure what is driving this “midlife crisis”.
When this gas ejection occurs, a galaxy loses the material it needs to form new stars. A younger, bluer galaxy stars will begin to age and die, giving way to older, smaller, and redder stars. And researchers at New York University in Abu Dhabi have questioned whether the supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy might be responsible, so they looked at how the activity of a black hole helps a galaxy release some of its gas.
“The link between the activity of [supermassive black holes] and the ejection of gas from the entire galaxy is poorly understood, ”said Aisha Al Yazeedi, researcher at New York University Abu Dhabi and lead author of the article, in A declaration.
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The researchers focused on one galaxy, MaNGA 1-166919. (“MaNGA” indicates here that the galaxy was part of a survey called “Mapping Nearby Galaxies at APO” which, well, mapped nearby galaxies.)
MaNGA 1-166919 is particularly interesting because it has what astronomers call an active galactic nucleus: a particularly bright center thanks to the disc of a supermassive black hole bursting with energy, often in a pair of projector-like jets that s ‘away from the galaxy. center in two directions.
By observing the galaxy with both radio waves and visible light, the researchers found that these two supermassive black hole jets were indeed chasing gas out of the galaxy. Scientists also found evidence that the gas release played with star formation: speeding it up in some areas and turning it off in others.
Further research can tell us not only about the future of MaNGA 1-166919, but also about the future of our own neighborhood: the Milky Way and our proximity Andromeda Galaxy can both undergo the midlife crisis that will turn them into older, redder galaxies.
The research is described in a document published August 4 in The Astrophysical Journal.
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