Dec 10, 2019 - Science

NASA photo reveals star formation sparked by distant supermassive black hole

A newly released photo from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory
Photo: X-ray: NASA/CXC/INAF/R. Gilli et al.; Radio NRAO/VLA; Optical: NASA/STScI

A supermassive black hole's influence can stretch far beyond its immediate surroundings.

What's happening: A newly released photo from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes reveals a black hole in the middle of a galaxy 9.9 billion light-years from Earth that's spurring on star formation in four other galaxies around it, according to a new study in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Details: A radio jet emitted by the black hole likely heated up a bubble of hot gas, causing it to expand and creating a shock wave that sparked star formation in other galaxies.

  • Scientists have found plenty of examples of black holes that impede star formation, but this is one of the first examples of a supermassive black hole that's actually instigating it, NASA said.

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