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A monster black hole acts like a pump in a cosmic fountain, spouting and siphoning matter, according to unprecedented new observations.
Researchers have, for the first time, detected cold molecular gas funneling into and spraying out of a black hole within the same system. This provides evidence that both events occur in one grand process, officials from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) said in a statement. ESO operates and acts as a major partner for two instruments that collected data in this study.
Artist - Impression - Galaxy - Cluster - Abell
An artist's impression of galaxy cluster Abell 2597. This illustration shows the supermassive black hole at the center of Abell 2597 expelling cold molecular gas.
The new work focuses on an observation of a single celestial case, but the team speculated that the fountain phenomena may be common, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) officials said in another statement. On behalf of North America, NRAO leads and operates a radio telescope site called ALMA that made observations for this research. The findings could help "trace processes fundamental to galaxy evolution," researchers said in their study, published Sept. 17 in the Astrophysical Journal.
Hole - Study - Earth - Light-years - Constellation
The enormous black hole observed in the study is relatively near to Earth. It churns 1 billion light-years away, in the constellation Aquarius, within an elliptical galaxy at the center of the Abell 2597 galaxy cluster.
The team made a combined analysis of Abell 2597 by using several instruments. Data from MUSE, the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer on ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile, revealed warm, ionized gas shooting out of the central galaxy. And ALMA, ESO's Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (also in Chile), found clumps of frigid,...
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