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Galaxy-Scale Fountain Seen in Full Glory

9 Nov 2018, 13:10 UTC
Galaxy-Scale Fountain Seen in Full Glory
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A billion light-years from Earth lies one of the universe's most massive structures, a giant elliptical galaxy surrounded by a sprawling cluster of other galaxies known as Abell 2597. At the core of the central galaxy, a supermassive black hole is powering the cosmic equivalent of a monumental fountain, drawing in vast stores of cold molecular gas and spraying them back out again in an ongoing cycle.Astronomers have long theorized that fountains such as this continually recirculate a galaxy's star-forming fuel. New Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) observations of Abell 2597 show the first clear and compelling evidence for the simultaneous infalling and outflow of gas driven by a supermassive black hole. The researchers report their observations in the latest issue of the Astrophysical Journal."The supermassive black hole at the center of this giant galaxy acts like a mechanical 'pump' in a water fountain," said Grant Tremblay, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and lead author on the paper. "This is one of the first systems in which we find clear evidence for both cold molecular gas inflow toward the black hole and outflow or uplift from the jets that the black hole launches."According to ...

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