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

Love Gurus Date Despite Philosophical Differences in Delightful Romantic Romp

  The Bounce Back Film Review by Kam Williams Love Gurus Date Despite Philosophical Differences in Delightful Romantic Romp   Love guru Matthew Taylor (Shemar Moore) is the author of the new best seller, "The Bounce Back." Accompanied by his enterprising business manager, Terry (Bill Bellamy), he's been hawking the self-help book on plenty of TV and radio programs. Since Terry believes that "Image is everything," he's concerned that … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

Volume 2 of Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! – You Do NOT Want to Miss This

  Volume 2 of Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! – You Do NOT Want to Miss This Book Review by Amy Lignor What began in an unforgettable Volume 1—living Jerry Hall’s story and dealing with the heart-wrenching issues of the Viet Nam* War—continues here. The action of battle, fraught with the unending horrors that the “unwanted veterans” dealt with, grows even more painful. And as war comes closer to an end, what should have been peaceful … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

The Day After the Day Of

  The Day After the Day Of by Paul Ilechko   The sky sheds its tears. This morning is the morning of the day after. The day of mourning, the day after the day of.  I beseech the sky to shed tears in order to wash away the tears on my face.   This is the first day of the time after. This is the beginning of a new time, the days of pain, the days of sorrow. We are in mourning. The sky looks down and sheds its tears for … [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

Gain all Access Mobility with Roundabout Woodsman

Gain all Access Mobility with Roundabout Woodsman By Craig Lamb You are a waterfowler hunting solo with your prized retriever. Getting to the blind takes a four-wheel drive to pull through mud holes and keep on the two-track. Behind your truck is that aluminum jon boat. Launching that beast alone is a real hassle. Get it launched and you spend more time loading all the gear, a dog and yourself. All of the above is part of the fun, maybe, of … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

Gain all Access Mobility with Roundabout Woodsman

Gain all Access Mobility with Roundabout Woodsman By Craig Lamb You are a waterfowler hunting solo with your prized retriever. Getting to the blind takes a four-wheel drive to pull through mud holes and keep on the two-track. Behind your truck is that aluminum jon boat. Launching that beast alone is a real hassle. Get it launched and you spend more time loading all the gear, a dog and yourself. All of the above is part of the fun, maybe, of … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

The Best & Worst (So Far) of the 2016 NFL Season

  The Best & Worst (So Far) of the 2016 NFL Season by Amy Lignor     Okay…we’re almost dead center, folks, so it’s time to sum up the best and silliest actions and reactions that the 2016 NFL season has provided fans thus far.   Analysts are always yapping, and most likely nothing they say will actually come true. However, right now almost everyone is agreeing to the fact that Tom Brady has a score to settle. Yes, … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Charity Begins at Home

  Charity Begins at Home by Amy Lignor   Turning a blind eye is easy for some; preferred by others. But the fact is that the bad doesn’t become good – in any area – unless eyes are open wide to not only see what’s occurring, but also to gain the knowledge needed to stop the bad from getting even worse. Remarks are made about “other countries” and what they do wrong when it comes to the harming of animals for profit. However, in … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Exploring the Holidays Around the Globe

  Exploring the Holidays Around the Globe by Amy Lignor   Thanksgiving has been had. Games have been watched and the golden turkey has caused a great many belts to be loosened. So…here it comes!   From hanging the stockings on the chimney with care to the red-nosed reindeer who had to be there; from Santa heading down that chimney just right to lovely sleigh bells ringing softly in the night, the holiday season is a truly … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

Forecasting Climate Change

  Forecasting Climate Change by Amy Lignor As with anything in this world, it depends on whose opinion or observations you trust as to just how bad climate change is becoming. As 2016 begins to wrap up, climate scientists, atmospheric physicists, chemists, oceanographers – you name it – no one can come up with any other explanation for climate change and the warming of our planet other than human activity. How fast is it happening? … [Read More its Good for You...]