Black hole burps up gobbled gas and dust | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Black hole burps up gobbled gas and dust

Astronomers can use belched remnants to study galaxy evolution

5:08pm, January 6, 2016
black hole and galaxies

COSMIC BRAAAAAP  Ripples of hot gas (blue arcs, inset) race away from an erupting supermassive black hole in the center of NGC 5195 (upper left), a galaxy entangled with its neighbor, the Whirlpool Galaxy (bottom left).

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

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content