Galaxies with the most powerful, active, supermassive black holes at their cores produce fewer stars than galaxies with less ones. This is from new data from the Herschel Space Observatory. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This artist concept of the local galaxy Arp 220, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, helps illustrate the Herschel results. The bright core of the galaxy, paired with an overlaid artist’s impression of jets emanating from it, indicate that the central black hole’s activity is intensifying. As the active black hole continues to rev up, the rate of star formation will, in turn, be suppressed in the galaxy. Astronomers want to further study how star formation and black hole activity are intertwined.
Supermassive black holes are believed to reside in the hearts of all large galaxies. When gas falls upon these monsters, the materials are accelerated and heated around the black hole, releasing great torrents of energy. In the process, active black holes often generate colossal jets that blast out twin streams of heated matter.
Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission, with science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes, with important participation by NASA.