Galaxies stop forming stars despite access to raw materials
Digitized Sky Survey, Chandra/NASA , Southern Observatory for Astrophysical Research, Very Large Array
Supermassive black holes might slowly suffocate galaxies. The suggestion runs counter to astronomers’ notion that galaxies stop forming stars when they run out of cold gas. But researchers have found a cache of galaxies loaded with cold gas that aren’t making stars. The team’s observations suggest that the galaxies’ central black holes stirred up the gas and shut down the stellar assembly lines.
Over the last decade, astronomers have learned that black holes can drive the fates of entire galaxies. “It’s a bit like an orange affecting the Earth,” says Andrew Fabian, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge. “These black holes are enormously powerful. They’re emerging as an important factor in the way galaxies operate.”
Stanford astrophysicist Norbert Werner and colleagues looked at eight giant elliptical galaxies, all within about 100 million light-years of Earth. Giant ellipticals are the retirement homes of