Astronomers claim to have solved the mystery of a supermassive black hole


Solve the mystery of the runaway supermassive black hole

Above: An image of the object observed by the Hubble Space Telescope. The emission appears in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. Center: UV image of a local galaxy without a noticeable bulge and edge (IC 5249). The similarities are clear. BOTTOM: The same galaxy IC 5249 observed in the visible part of the spectrum. The spatial scales of the three images are identical. Credit: ESA/Hubble

A mysterious trail of stars 8,000 million years ago discovered recently by the Hubble Space Telescope has challenged a number of research groups. Its size is similar to that of the Milky Way, and this very long, narrow structure has given rise to many explanations for its origin.

According to a controversial preliminary hypothesis, this trail of stars could be the result of a supermassive black hole passing through a huge cloud of gas. This idea quickly fired the imagination of the astronomical community, as it would require a large set of exceptionally complex circumstances. For this reason, many science teams have continued to explore different, less exotic scenarios that could explain the observations.

In a recent study published in Astronomy and astrophysics, researchers at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) have come to the conclusion that this unusual star structure can be explained as a galaxy without the appearance of an edge bulge. Galaxies of this type are also called thin or flat galaxies galaxiesis relatively common.

“The motions, size, and quantity of stars fit what was seen in galaxies within the local universe,” explains Jorge Sanchez Almeida, a researcher at IAC and first author of the article. “It is a great relief to find a solution to this puzzle; the new proposed scenario is much simpler. In a sense it is also a pity, because the existence of the escape black holes expected, and that would have been the first thing noticed.”

To support the interpretation hypothesis regarding the galaxy, the team compared the fuzzy structure with a known local galaxy without a bulge, IC5249, which has a similar mass of stars, and found surprising agreement. In the words of Mireia Montes, an IAC researcher who co-authored the article, “When we analyzed the velocities of this distant structure of stars, we realized that they were very similar to those obtained from the rotation of galaxies, so we decided to compare a much closer galaxy, and we found that they are similar.” Unusually.”

“We also looked at the relationship between the putative galaxy’s mass and its maximum rotational speed, and discovered that it is indeed a galaxy that behaves like a galaxy,” said Ignacio Trujillo, a researcher at IAC who was involved in the study. “It’s an interesting object, because it’s a very large galaxy at a very great distance from Earth, where the majority of galaxies are smaller,” he adds.

The upcoming observations will allow to study this object in more detail.

more information:
Jorge Sánchez-Almeida et al. Is the supermassive black hole or the distended galaxy waking up? Astronomy and astrophysics (2023). DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202346430

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