Supermassive Black Holes Are Growing Faster Than Their Galaxies

Posted: Feb 16 2018, 11:33pm CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Supermassive Black Holes are Growing Faster than Their Galaxies
Credit: NASA/CXC/Penn. State/G. Yang et al and NASA/CXC/ICE/M. Mezcua et al

Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes, researchers suggest that the biggest black holes and the stars in their host galaxies do not grow in tandem

Black holes lurk at the center of every large galaxy. These mysterious cosmic objects feed on the materials around them and can be billions of trillions of times more massive than sun. But determining how black holes grow and evolve always remained a daunting task.

For years, researchers had believed that supermassive black holes’ mass increases in step with the growth of their host galaxy. However, latest observations have revealed an unusually different behavior. New data suggests that supermassive black holes are outgrowing the galaxies they inhabit.

“We found black holes that are far bigger than we expected. Maybe they got a head start in this race to grow, or maybe they’ve had an edge in speed of growth that’s lasted billions of years.” Mar Mezcua, of the Institute of Space Sciences in Spain said.

Researchers reached this conclusion by combining data from numerous telescopes including NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble.

Mezcua and her colleagues studied black holes inside 72 galaxies located at about 3.5 billion light years from Earth. These are some of the brightest and most massive galaxies in the Universe. When they compared their properties in X-ray and radio waves, they found that the black hole masses were about ten times larger than masses estimated by another method that relates the ratio of black holes mass to the mass of their galaxy.

Another team of researchers, led by Guang Yang at Penn State, studied the correlation between the growth rate of supermassive black hole and the rate of the formation of stars in its host galaxy and found that the biggest black holes in the Universe are growing faster than the rate of stars being formed in their galaxies. The ratio was nearly ten times higher for galaxies containing about 100 billion solar masses worth of star than those having a mass of about 10 billion suns.

Previous studies suggested that the black holes and the stars in their host galaxies grow in tandem with each other. New findings, however, contradicts those results.

“We are trying to reconstruct a race that started billions of years ago,” said Guang Yang. “We are using extraordinary data taken from different telescopes to figure out how this cosmic competition unfolded.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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