Google+

Stars Form Fast Thanks To Snoozing Black Hole

Nearly 6 billion light-years away, one of the most massive galaxy clusters ever seen is birthing stars at an incredible rate, with its central member producing more than 700 suns per year in its cold, cold heart.

“It should be producing less than one, and it’s producing 740,” says Michael McDonald of MIT, coauthor of a study describing the cluster in the Aug. 16 Nature.

The cluster’s cold core and excessive fertility suggest the presence of a slacker black hole at the galaxy’s center.  Normally, radiation from a supermassive black hole — in this case, something around 10 billion times the mass of the sun — warms the surrounding environment, making it hard for gas to coalesce into stars. Whether the black hole in this cluster is simply overworked,  permanently off-duty or just taking a break is unclear, but scientists guess they’ve captured the cluster at an exceptionally frisky moment with respect to star formation.

“Stars are forming at a much higher rate than we’ve seen before in any of these galaxies,” says astrophysicist Martin Rees of the University of Cambridge in England.  “It’s a fascinating step toward putting this picture together of the tussle between the black holes and the star formation.

But the rate of star formation in the cluster may be somewhat overestimated, says astronomer Andrew Fabian, also at Cambridge. “There’s no doubt that they’ve found a really exciting and fascinating object,” he says. “Just how extreme it is, we don’t know yet.”

Astronomers discovered the riot of starbirth using the South Pole Telescope, a radio antenna that searches for the shadows cast by clusters on the cosmic microwave background, the thermal radiation left over from the Big Bang. Called “Phoenix” by the team — its official name is SPT-CLJ2344-4243 — the cluster comprises roughly 1,000 galaxies, is more than 4 million light-years across, and contains more mass than 2,000 Milky Ways.

In other words, it’s big.

It’s bright, too: The galactic conglomerate is the most luminous cluster ever observed in the X-ray spectrum. At its center lies a galaxy 50 times larger than the Milky Way. “It’s kind of the boss galaxy,” McDonald says.

It’s here in the cluster’s epicenter that scientists are observing stars forming much faster than expected for a galaxy of this type. Calculating the stellar birth rate involves measuring the amount of X-rays emitted by molecular gas as it cools off and falls toward the central galaxy. Though the swirling gas starts off at temperatures exceeding 10 million degrees Celsius, stars can’t begin coalescing until it cools to temperatures nearer the ambient temperature of space — several hundred degrees below zero.

Fabian and his colleagues suggested decades ago that star formation proceeds through such “cooling flows,” but that process hadn’t been observed in this type of central galaxy until now.

McDonald and his colleagues calculated that approximately 740 stars are bursting out of this central galaxy each year. But the sprinter’s pace is unlikely to be a permanent feature of the cluster, because over a marathon distance it would produce a monster galaxy 1,000 times larger than anything ever observed.

It’s more likely that scientists have captured the cluster in a fit of fertility, though it’s unknown just how long that fit will last. “I think something around 100 million years is reasonable,” McDonald says. Determining exactly how much molecular gas — fuel for the fertile fire — is present will help resolve the timescale question. Scientists hope to make that measurement using the ALMA telescopes in northern Chile.

Source: Science News / Nadia Drake / photo Credit: UV: NASA, JPL-Caltech, M. McDonald; Optical: AURA, NOAO, CTIO, MIT, M. McDonald; Microwave: NSF/SPT

Entertainment

For movies opening September 30, 2016

  OPENING THIS WEEK Kam's Kapsules Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun by Kam Williams For movies opening September 30, 2016 BIG BUDGET FILMS   Deepwater Horizon (PG-13 for intense action sequences, disturbing images and brief profanity) Disaster flick recreating the real-life events surrounding the 2010 explosion of the offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico which claimed the lives of 11 crewmen and led to the worst … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

Richards Rocks!

  Sandra L. Richards The “Rice & Rocks” Interview with Kam Williams Richards Rocks! The American-born daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents, Sandra L. Richards is the author of “Rice & Rocks.” She hopes that her debut picture book will serve as an educational resource for families seeking to teach their children the value of their heritage and the importance of cultural diversity. Sandra completed both her undergraduate and … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

More Than a Score

  ACRONYM TO FOLLOW by Peter Brav   Finally Our Day has come There’s a Day for everything For doughnuts, siblings, eight track tapes Grilled cheese, daughters and sons to work Encouragement, Alzheimer’s Coffee, math, chewing gum Blasphemy, yo-yos And now finally One for us Truly a Day to celebrate National Don’t Shoot An Unarmed Brother Doctor King Not Seeing Progress George Orwell Laughing It Is So About the … [Read More its Good For You...]

Real Estate

New Home Sales Jump in April

  New Home Sales Jump in April By Burt Carey Sales of new homes hit their highest rate since 2008 in April, according to the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau. April sales increased 16.6 percent over March figures, which correlates to a seasonally adjusted rate of 619,000 home sales projected for the year. The median price of those new homes was $321,000, the highest median price ever recorded. That’s up 9.7 percent … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Richards Rocks!

  Sandra L. Richards The “Rice & Rocks” Interview with Kam Williams Richards Rocks! The American-born daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents, Sandra L. Richards is the author of “Rice & Rocks.” She hopes that her debut picture book will serve as an educational resource for families seeking to teach their children the value of their heritage and the importance of cultural diversity. Sandra completed both her undergraduate and … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

Apex Gear ACCU•STRIKE XS Series Bow Sights

  Apex Gear ACCU•STRIKE XS Series Bow Sights By Brad Fenson As an avid bowhunter, I’m always looking for a sight to not only help me acquire a target accurately and quickly but provide adjustability while being lightweight. It might be a lot to ask for but with a wide array of hunting situations, you have to be selective in your equipment to ensure you are always successful in the long run. The Apex Gear ACCU•STRIKE™ XS was … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

There Are Superheroes Among Us

  There Are Superheroes Among Us by Amy Lignor   This story truly proves that a superhero does not require a cape, tights, or the ability to fly. In a world where all headlines seem to be centered around who shot who, who is being put upon, who’s “getting away with it” – all the way to who is getting divorced and who may or may not be kneeling at NFL games – negative stories seem to be the only ones covered anymore by the media. … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Scholastic Announces Sales of More Than 3.3 Million Copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

  Scholastic Announces Sales of More Than 3.3 Million Copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two New York, NY (August 10, 2016) — Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two script book, the eighth Harry Potter story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, published in the U.S. and Canada by Scholastic has sold more than 3.3 million copies in North America to date.Scholastic announced a first printing … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Vacation Time Has Turned “Spooky”

  Vacation Time Has Turned “Spooky” by Amy Lignor   Myths and legends, both spooky and surreal, are becoming the subject of many books and newspaper articles lately. And the location of many, oddly enough, happen to be in the Southwest. It used to be that a nice white sandy beach was the one place we yearned to go on vacation to get away from it all. Now, however, people are searching for places to travel where legends still exist, and … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

Controlling a Species: Humans Being Humane

  Controlling a Species: Humans Being Humane by Amy Lignor   Humane. There is a reason why this word and human are basically spelled the same. What needs to happen, however, is for them to mean the same. There are societies out there that talk about just that. From clubs to groups to volunteer organizations that protect all varieties of our animal friends, “humane” is one act that they wish would be considered in any and all … [Read More its Good for You...]