Images by Date
Images by Category
Solar System
Stars
White Dwarfs
Supernovas
Neutron Stars
Black Holes
Milky Way Galaxy
Normal Galaxies
Quasars
Galaxy Clusters
Cosmology/Deep Field
Miscellaneous
Images by Interest
Space Scoop for Kids
4K JPG
Multiwavelength
Sky Map
Constellations
Photo Blog
Top Rated Images
Image Handouts
Desktops
Fits Files
Image Tutorials
Photo Album Tutorial
False Color
Cosmic Distance
Look-Back Time
Scale & Distance
Angular Measurement
Images & Processing
AVM/Metadata
Image Use Policy
Web Shortcuts
Chandra Blog
RSS Feed
Chronicle
Email Newsletter
News & Noteworthy
Image Use Policy
Questions & Answers
Glossary of Terms
Download Guide
Get Adobe Reader
SpARCS1049: Black Hole Fails to Do Its Job
SpARCS1049
SpARCS1049

  • A new study reveals what happens when a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy cluster stops being active.

  • By combining data from Chandra, Hubble, and Spitzer data, astronomers found a deluge of star formation in the cluster known as SpARCS1049.

  • SpARCS1049 is producing stars at a rate some 300 times that seen in the Milky Way galaxy.

  • This result is in contrast with many other clusters that show how active supermassive black holes keep gas too hot to form many stars.

A galaxy cluster is demonstrating what can happen when a supermassive black hole stops being active, as described in our latest press release. SpARCS104922.6+564032.5 (SpARCS1049 for short) is a galaxy cluster located 9.9 billion light years away from Earth. Galaxy clusters contain hundreds or thousands of galaxies pervaded by hot, X-ray emitting gas that outweighs the combined mass of all the galaxies. In this image of SpARCS1049, X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (light blue) have been combined with optical and infrared light data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (red, green, and blue).

Astronomers have seen many examples where a supermassive black hole in a cluster's central galaxy prevents this hot gas from cooling to form vast numbers of stars. This heating allows supermassive black holes to influence or control the activity and evolution of their host cluster.

However, the would-be domineering black hole in SpARCS1049 is behaving differently and is almost completely dormant. This appears to be allowing star formation to run rampant. According to observations from Hubble and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, SpARCS1049 is forming stars at a rate over 300 times our Milky Way galaxy. (At this rate of SpARCS1049, all of the stars in the Milky Way could form in just 100 million years, which is one percent of our Galaxy's age of more than 10 billion years.)

Researchers tried to determine what is causing this explosion of star formation and why it is located about 80,000 light years away from the center of SpARCS1049, outside any of the cluster's galaxies. The Chandra data show that the temperature of the gas in the site of prodigious star formation has cooled to about 10 million degrees. (This is in contrast to most of the rest of the cluster where the gas is hotter at about 65 million degrees.) The presence of this cooler gas suggests that other undetected gas reservoirs have cooled to even lower temperatures that enable huge numbers of stars to form.

An annotated version of the composite image shows the location of the densest hot gas seen with Chandra, along with the galaxy in the center of the cluster. The coolest gas detected by Chandra and the site of the most rapid star formation is located halfway between the densest gas and the central galaxy.

Labeled version of X-ray and optical composite image.
Close-Up Composite Image, Labeled (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXO/Univ. of Montreal/J. Hlavacek-Larrondo et al; Optical/IR: NASA/STScI)

Astronomers do not see any signs that a supermassive black hole in the central galaxy is actively pulling in matter in SpARCS1049. For example, they do not find any evidence for a jet of material blowing away from the black hole at radio wavelengths, or of an X-ray source from the middle of the galaxy indicating that matter was heated as it fell towards a black hole. These are the common signs that a black hole is growing quickly and keeping the gas of a cluster too warm to form many stars. These black holes, however, are typically found in galaxy clusters that are only a few hundred million light years from Earth and are much older than SpARCS1049. This could mean that black holes in younger and more distant galaxy clusters act differently than their nearer and older counterparts.

A paper describing these results is appearing in The Astrophysical Journal Letters and is available online. The authors are Julie Hlavacek-Larrondo (University of Montreal in Canada), Carter Rhea (University of Montreal), Tracy Webb (McGill University, Canada), Michael McDonald (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), A. Muzzin (York University, Canada), G. Wilson (University of California, Riverside), K. Finner (Yonsei University, Korea), F. Valin (McGill), N. Bonventura (University of Copahagen, Denmark), M. Cooper (University of California, Irvine), Andy Fabian (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, United Kingdom), M.-L Gendron-Marsolais (European Southern Observatory), J.M. Lee (Yonsei), C. Lidman (Australian National University), Mar Mezcua (Institute of Space Sciences, Spain), A. Noble (Arizona State University), H.R. Russell (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge), J. Surace (IPAC, Caltech), A. Trudeau (University of Victoria, Canada), and H.K.C. Yee (University of Toronto).

 

Fast Facts for SpARCS1049:
Credit  X-ray: NASA/CXO/Univ. of Montreal/J. Hlavacek-Larrondo et al; Optical/IR: NASA/STScI
Release Date  August 3, 2020
Scale  Image is about 50 arcsec (1.4 million light years) across.
Category  Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 10h 49m 22.6s | Dec 56° 40´ 32.5"
Constellation  Ursa Major
Observation Date  4 pointings Jan 27-28, 2018 and July 20-21, 2018
Observation Time  47 hours 17 minutes (1 day 23 hours 17 minutes)
Obs. ID  20528, 20940-20941, 22129
Instrument  ACIS
References Hlavacek-Larrando, J., et al.; 2020, ApJL (accepted); arXiv:2007.15660
Color Code  X-ray: light blue, HST: red, green, and blue
Optical
X-ray
Distance Estimate  About 9.9 billion Light years (z=1.709)
distance arrow
Rate This Image

Rating: 3.9/5
(86 votes cast)
Download & Share

More Information
Press Room: SpARCS1049
Blog: History of SpARCS1049
More Images
X-ray Image of
SpARCS1049
Jpg, Tif
j1049 Cluster X-ray image

More Images
Animation & Video
A Tour of SpARCS1049
animation

More Animations
Related Images
CDF-S
CDF-S
(15 Feb 2018)
Ophiuchus
Ophiuchus
(27 Feb 2020)

Related Information
Related Podcast
Top Rated Images
Data Sonification

Kepler's Supernova Remnant

MAXI J1820+070




FaceBookTwitterYouTubeFlickr