Giant fountains of ejected gas cycle back to feed the hungry galaxy center
X-ray: CXC/NASA, Michigan State Univ., G. Voit et al; optical: NASA, STScI, DSS; H-alpha: W. Baade Telescope/Magellan and Carnegie Observatory, Univ. of Maryland, M. McDonald
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Like a cosmic water fountain, a supermassive black hole is cycling gas through a galaxy-sized pump. The black hole powers jets that blast gas over 30,000 light-years away from the galaxy only to rain back down on a reservoir from which the black hole feeds. Yale University astronomer Grant Tremblay described this phenomenon January 6 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
The fountain sits at the heart of a galaxy within the Abell 2597 cluster, a galactic gathering over 1 billion light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. Observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile reveal that the fountain billows into plumes with the mass of about 1 billion suns. The force of the jets appear to trigger the formation of new stars within these plumes. Most of the ejected gas falls back down