Black hole and stellar winds form giant butterfly and blocked star formation in galaxy

This butterfly may be linked to the galaxy’s twin hearts.

NGC 6240 as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and A. Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University)
NGC 6240 as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and A. Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University)

The new examination by the CU Boulder investigates a cosmic system called NGC 6240. NGC 6240 contains two supermassive black holes at the center and they’re revolving to each other in the last steps before crashing together.

The study suggests how those black holes exert gases, in combination with gases shot out by stars in the cosmic system, may have started to shut down NGC 6240’s generation of new stars. According to scientists, these combinations of the black hole and stellar winds may aid to create NGC 6240’s most tell-tale feature: a massive cloud of gas in the shape of a butterfly.

Galaxies like NGC 6240—which play host to two all-around nourished supermassive black holes of a class called Active Galactic Nuclei (AGNs)— are very rare. They have gathered some attention on the grounds that they give a preview of a critical stage in the development of galaxies like our own particular Milky Way. Researchers trust that such systems are made from the combination of two parent galaxies.

Francisco Müller-Sánchez, research head said, “NGC 6240 is weird in other ways. Unlike the Milky Way, which forms a relatively tidy disk, bubbles and jets of gas shoot off from NGC 6240, extending about 30,000 light years into space and resembling a butterfly in flight. Scientists have suspected that this butterfly may be linked to the galaxy’s twin hearts.”

Scientists gathered the data from three different telescopes: the Hubble Space Telescope, the Very Large Telescope in Chile and Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. They discovered two unique powers have offered to ascend to the cloud.

The butterfly’s northwest corner, for instance, is the result of stellar breezes, or gases that stars emanate through different procedures. The upper east corner, then again, is commanded by a single cone of gas that was catapulted by the match of black holes—the consequence of those black holes eating up a lot of galactic dust and gas amid their combination.

Those two winds combined evict about 100 times the mass of Earth’s sun in gases from the galaxy every year.

According to Müller-Sánchez said, “Such an outflow can have big implications for the galaxy itself. When two galaxies merge, they begin a feverish burst of new star formation. Black hole and stellar winds, however, can slow down that process by clearing away the gases that make up fresh stars—much like how a gust of wind can blow away the pile of leaves you just raked. We suspect that we are seeing such “negative feedback” on star formation begin to ramp up in NGC 6240.”

Julie Comerford, an assistant professor in APS and a co-author of the new study said, “NGC 6240 is in a unique phase of its evolution. It is forming stars intensely now, so it needs the extra strong kick of two winds to slow down that star formation and evolve into a less active galaxy.”

The research is published in Nature.