Astronomers can use belched remnants to study galaxy evolution
X-ray: NASA, CXC, E. Schlegel/Univ. of Texas et al; Optical: NASA, STScI
KISSIMMEE, Fla.— Supermassive black holes are a lot like toddlers. They’re energetic, often the center of attention — and occasionally spit up their food. A black hole at the core of another galaxy has belched twice in the last 6 million years, leaving a record of these eruptions drifting through intergalactic space.
Two arcs of X-ray light hovering next to galaxy NGC 5195 are the hot remnants of two eruptions from a supermassive black hole at its center, astronomer Eric Schlegel reported January 5 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The arcs are about 3,000 light-years apart and several thousand light-years long.
The older eruption is plowing a layer of glowing hydrogen gas from the center of NGC 5195, which sits about 26 million light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici. “It’s the best snowplow of shocked material I’ve