Scientists in California have discovered that supermassive black holes appear to control the formation of stars in a galaxy.
A potentially groundbreaking new study published in the journal Nature has found that the mass of the supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy actually controls the formation of stars, and is ultimately responsible when star formation totally shuts down. It’s a huge discovery that could change how we understand black holes, as well as the life cycle of galaxies.
These supermassive black holes appear to control how new stars are born, and they suffocate the formation of new stars at a certain point by absorbing all the energy needed for star formation. Scientists had long assumed that this was the case, and had even factored it in this assumption in their calculations, but this is the first observational evidence that there is a connection between star formation in galaxies and their supermassive black holes.
The paper details a sort of constant interplace between the black hole and the formation of stars throughout the life of a galaxy. The research was led by first author Ignacio Martin-Navarro, who is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California Santa Cruz.
“We’ve been dialing in the feedback to make the simulations work out, without really knowing how it happens,” said Jean Brodie, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and a coauthor of the paper. “This is the first direct observational evidence where we can see the effect of the black hole on the star formation history of the galaxy.”