HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE
Since Hubble’s commission in April 1990, the space telescope has made some astounding discoveries for NASA astronomers. Now, after a 32 year long career, Hubble continues to make similarly significant discoveries.
Research published in Nature Journal has revealed that supermassive black holes are capable of forming stars in dwarf sized galaxies. This process is called “black-hole-driven outflows” – when a black hole assists the heated gases in star formation. This process – typically – suppresses the formation of new stars.
The discovery was made inside galaxy Henize 2-10, located approximately 9 Mpc (29,354,074.17 light years) from earth – in the southern constellation Pyxis, according to NASA. This galaxy contains just one tenth of the number of stars our Milky Way galaxy does.
“The extent to which black-hole outflows can trigger star formation in dwarf galaxies is unclear, because work in this area has previously focused on massive galaxies and the observational evidence is scarce,” wrote the study authors.
Zachary Schutte, study author and astrophysicist at Montana State University, told Space.com “Before our work, supermassive black hole-enhanced star formation had only been seen in much larger galaxies.”
HUBBLE: LIVE LONG & PROSPER
This recent Hubble discovery goes in stark contrast to how scientists understand black holes to operate, as black holes are typically known for their destructive powers in dwarf galaxies.
Amy Reins, lead author of the study, told NASA “From the beginning I knew something unusual and special was happening in Henize 2-10, and now Hubble has provided a very clear picture of the connection between the black hole and a neighbouring star forming region located 230 light-years from the black hole.”
Not only was Reins co-responsible for this recent discovery, but also one of the first astronomer to observe that the Henize 2-10 galaxy black hole was an accreting “central black hole with a mass of approximately one million solar masses,” according to her research published in 2011.
This discovery will continue to remind us just how little we know about black holes. But it may also help scientists to understand the nature of other deep space mysterious – like where do supermassive black holes originate from?
A question yet to be answered even by the most decorated of astrophysicists.