Astronomers have Discovered a Galactic “Fountain”


Situated at more than a billion light-years away, Abell 2597 is a giant elliptical galaxy with several minor galaxies orbiting around it.  A supermassive black hole resides in the very heart of the giant galaxy, acting like a metaphorical fountain as it is able to regulate the flow of molecular gas in order to keep it going.

It is believed that the phenomenon is able to recirculate the star-forming fuel that allows galaxies to grow. New research, recorded with the help of the New Atacama Large Millimeter/submilimiter Array offered conclusive evidence regarding the simultaneous inflow/outflow of gas that is created by the supermassive black hole.

According to the researchers, the supermassive black hole can be compared to a mechanical pump in a water fountain Research has shown that the black hole attacks cold molecular gases that are later pushed back in the form of hot molecular gas. It is also noted that the system is entirely stable as it continuously self-regulates. The infalling gas powers up the system as it slowly moves towards the center of the black hole. The gas then activates the black hole, a process that leads to the emission of intense jets that contain heated gas. These jets travel throughout the galaxy and collect additional material as they approach towards its halo. When it arrives at the destination, the now cold gases once again begin to go towards the black hole

The phenomenon also generates a large nebula, with an impressive size of up to 100.000 light-years away. An earlier study elaborated by the same researchers validated the link between the black hole and the gas by analyzing select regions with MUSE. The Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer discovered the ionized gas that is launched from the galaxy, and new research identified clumps of cold molecular gas in the same areas where hot gas was initially found.

Researchers hope to find out more about the process that lead to the formation of a galaxy as the study advances.


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