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CID 1711 and CID 3083: Close Encounters of the Galactic Kind
CID 1711

  • Close encounters between galaxies appear to trigger the black holes in their cores to grow rapidly.

  • Astronomers studied thousands of galaxies - some in pairs and others that were isolated - as part of the large COSMOS survey.

  • Results demonstrate that galaxies in the early stages of an encounter with another were more likely to have actively growing black holes.

Astronomers have used a large survey to test a prediction that close encounters between galaxies can trigger the rapid growth of supermassive black holes. Key to this work was Chandra's unique ability to pinpoint actively growing black holes through the X-rays they generate.

The researchers looked at 562 galaxies in pairs ranging in distances from about 3 billion to 8 billion light years from Earth. They found that the galaxies in the early stages of an encounter with another were more likely than isolated, or "lonelier" galaxies to have actively growing black holes in their cores.

These two composite images show a sample of the pairs of galaxies that are undergoing close encounters in the survey. In these images, the data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory are shown in purple and Hubble Space Telescope data are in gold. In both images, the point-like X-ray source near the center is generated by gas that has been heated to millions of degrees as it falls toward a supermassive black hole located in the middle of its host galaxy. The other faint X-ray emission may be caused by hot gas associated with the pair of galaxies.

The authors of the study estimate that nearly one-fifth of all moderately active black holes are found in galaxies undergoing the early stages of an interaction. This leaves open the question of what events are responsible for fueling the remaining 80% of growing black holes. Some of these may involve the late stages of mergers between two galaxies. Less violent events such as gas falling in from the halo of the galaxy, or the disruption of small satellite galaxies are also likely to play an important role.

The survey used in this research is called the Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS), which covers two square degrees on the sky with observations from several major space-based observatories including Chandra and Hubble. Accurate distance information about the galaxies was also derived from optical observations with the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. The researchers compared a sample of 562 galaxies in pairs with 2726 solo galaxies to come to their conclusions.

A paper describing this work has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal. The study was led by John Silverman from the Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU) at the University of Tokyo in Japan. There are 54 co-authors from various institutions around the world.

Fast Facts for CID 1711:
Credit  X-ray: NASA/CXC/IPMU/J.Silverman et al; Optical: NASA/STScI/Caltech/N.Scoville et al.
Release Date  October 25, 2011
Scale  Image is 15 arcsec across (363,000 light years)
Category  Quasars & Active Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 09h 59m 34.658s | Dec +01 56' 51.24"
Constellation  Sextans
Observation Dates  4 pointings between 4/6 and 4/13 2007
Observation Time  55 hours 33 min (2 days 7 hours 33 min)
Obs. IDs  8019, 8020, 8025-8026
Instrument  ACIS
References Silverman, J. et al 2011 ApJ (in press); arXiv:1109.1292
Color Code  X-ray (Purple); Optical (Yellow)
Optical
X-ray
Distance Estimate  6.7 billion light years (z=0.77)
Fast Facts for CID 3083:
Credit  X-ray: NASA/CXC/IPMU/J.Silverman et al; Optical: NASA/STScI/Caltech/N.Scoville et al.
Release Date  October 25, 2011
Scale  Image is 15 arcsec across (249,000 light years)
Category  Quasars & Active Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 09h 59m 21.53s | Dec +01 55' 45.18"
Constellation  Sextans
Observation Dates  4 pointings between 4/6 and 4/13 2007
Observation Time  55 hours 33 min (2 days 7 hours 33 min)
Obs. IDs  8019, 8020, 8025-8026
Instrument  ACIS
References Silverman, J. et al 2011 ApJ (in press); arXiv:1109.1292
Color Code  X-ray (Purple); Optical (Yellow)
Optical
X-ray
Distance Estimate  4.0 billion light years (z=0.371)
Visitor Comments (4)

Great stuff...I LOVE it;)

Posted by Eva Marino on Monday, 11.12.12 @ 21:18pm


I really do commend the Chandra Digest team for the manner in which they have gone about openly presenting the feacts and pictures and the attached research articles and scientific details. I would like to also see some interactive desktop support with a small knowledgeable team that can interact and respond to enthusiasts such as myself.

Posted by Desh Maharaj on Sunday, 10.30.11 @ 04:48am


The matter of the black holes seems to have bi-polarity and each of these seems to be able to just fuse with each other. Like +ve and -ve polarized water. This may be a factor as to why most galaxies have 2 black holes spinning around each other ate the centres of the galaxy. Yet in reality with multiple galaxy collisions over the billion of years there should me many systems with Multiple Black Hole cores. So it seems like the like polarity black holes fuse like water droplets. Thereby creating only bi-polar systems.

Posted by Desh Maharaj on Sunday, 10.30.11 @ 04:39am


The issue seems to be inverse to that proposed initially. Thus, the galaxies would create black holes are formed as a function of jet energy expelled by the first galaxy (mother), has collapsed. The gravitational pull would cause the vacuum which, in turn, would again attract the elements around him. For example, an explosion causes the movement of everything around you so expansive. Ceased the explosion, the vacuum caused immediately return to be filed by the same materials.

Posted by carlos tatis on Wednesday, 10.26.11 @ 13:50pm


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