An undergraduate student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has found interesting details about the growth of stars and black holes. Her findings provide key insights into how the growth of stars and supermassive black holes are linked.
Using this information, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be able to more efficiently entangle how exactly galaxies work.
The study describing the findings was recently published in the Astrophysical Journal.
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Processes Powering Galactic Evolution
The evolution of galaxies is powered by two processes, a statement released by the University of Massachusetts Amherst said. These processes are the growth of supermassive black holes at the centre of each galaxy, and the formation of new stars.
Astronomers had not yet figured out how these processes are linked, until now. JWST will be exploring this mystery.
Meredith Stone from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said in a statement that it is known that galaxies grow, collide, and change throughout their lives. She added that it is also known that black hole growth and star formation play crucial roles, are linked, and regulate each other. However, until now, it has been very hard to see exactly how.
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What Makes It Difficult To Study Interaction Between Black Holes And Stars?
One of the reasons why it is difficult to study the interaction between black holes and stars is that one cannot really see these interactions because they take place behind enormous clouds of galactic dust. Alexandra Pope, senior author on the paper, said that for galaxies that are actively forming stars, more than 90 per cent of the visible light can be absorbed by dust.
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According to the statement, when the dust absorbs visible light, it beats up. Though the naked human eye cannot see heat, infrared telescopes can see the heat. Stone said the team used the Spitzer Space Telescope. The researchers looked at the mid-infrared wavelength range of some of the brightest galaxies that are relatively close to Earth.
How Did The Astronomers Observe Star Formation And Black Hole Growth In Galaxies?
The team was particularly searching for tell-tale tracers that are the fingerprints of black holes and stars in the midst for formation.
These fingerprints are too faint, because of which it is nearly impossible to distinguish them from the general noise of the infrared spectrum. Therefore, Meredith calibrated the measurements of these tracers so that they are more distinct.
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The astronomers could see black hole growth and star formation are happening concurrently in the same galaxies, and they seem to be influencing each other. This was possible after the fingerprints had become distinct. According to the statement, Stone calculated the ratio that describes how the phenomena of star formation and black hole growth are linked.
The JWST can use this information to unravel more mysteries.
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