Star formation in galactic winds near a black hole


It was possible for astronomers to observe for the first time the formation of stars in “winds” of matter, very close to a “supermassive” black hole right in the center of a galaxy. This discovery may alter understanding of the evolution of galaxies.

These observations, the results of which have been published this month in the journal Nature, have been achieved thanks to the Very Large Telescope (VLT) telescope in Chile operated by the European Southern Observatory (OES), an astronomical organization of which Portugal is a member.

In a statement, the OES notes that this finding, the result of the observations, may have “many consequences” for understanding the evolution and properties of galaxies.

“If this formation of stars is really happening, especially in the area of galactic winds, as some theories point out, this may represent a new scenario for understanding the evolution of galaxies”, said team leader Roberto Maiolino, of astronomers. University of Cambridge, UK, quoted in a statement to OES.

The team observed colossal matter winds generated in the vicinity of a “supermassive” black hole in the center of one of two colliding galaxies known as IRAS F23128-5919, about 600 million light-years from Earth.

Astronomers say they have detected the first clear indication that the stars are being born in these winds of matter at a very rapid rate. That is, stars with 30 solar masses will be generated per year, equivalent to more than a quarter of the total star formation of the colliding galactic binary system. These galactic winds are triggered by the gigantic energy produced in the active and turbulent centers of galaxies.

Black holes (areas where nothing can escape, not even light) “supermassive” are at the center of most galaxies. When they absorb matter, they heat the surrounding gas and then expel it from the galaxy. Galaxy this “hostess” through strong and dense winds.

Preliminary analyzes have revealed that newly formed stars in the galaxies of IRAS F23128-5919 will be just under tens of millions of years old and will be warmer and brighter than stars born in less extreme environments, such as those of a Galactic disk.