Raging storms sweep away galactic gas

May 9, 2011
An artist’s impression showing a galaxy with a molecular outflow. Herschel has discovered that such outflows can travel at 1000 km/s, which could deplete the galaxy of the gas needed for further star formation within one million to 100 million years. Credit: ESA/AOES Medialab

(PhysOrg.com) -- ESA's Herschel infrared space observatory has detected raging winds of molecular gas streaming away from galaxies. Suspected for years, these outflows may have the power to strip galaxies of gas and halt star formation in its tracks.

The winds that has detected are extraordinary. The fastest is blowing at a speed of more than 1000 km/s, or about 10 000 times faster than the wind in a terrestrial hurricane.

This is the first time that such molecular gas outflows have been unequivocally observed in a sample of galaxies. This is an important discovery because form from molecular gas, and these outflows are robbing the galaxy of the raw material it needs to make new stars. If the outflows are powerful enough, they could even halt star formation altogether.

"With Herschel, we now have the chance to really study what these outflows mean for ," says Eckhard Sturm from the Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik in Germany, the lead author of this work.

Dr Sturm and colleagues used Herschel's Photoconductor Array Camera and Spectrometer to study 50 galaxies. This first paper focuses on six of their sample.

They infer that 1200 times the mass of our Sun is being lost each year from the galaxies with the most vigorous outflows. That is enough to strip them of their entire reserves of star-forming gas within one million to 100 million years. In other words, some galaxies could completely expel their star-forming gas in as little as a million years. Inhibiting star formation in a galaxy is known as negative feedback.

These winds could be generated by the intense emission of light and particles from young stars, or by shockwaves from the explosion of old stars. Alternatively, they may be triggered by the radiation given off as matter swirls around a black hole at the centre of the galaxy.

The fastest winds appear to be coming from the galaxies that contain the brightest 'active galactic nuclei', in which a giant black hole is feeding from its surroundings. Dr Sturm and colleagues are now testing this idea with the other galaxies in their sample. The results could be a step towards explaining how some elliptical galaxies are formed.

Elliptical galaxies are vast islands of stars that have now stopped producing appreciable numbers of because they have exhausted their gas supplies.

As smaller interact and merge with each other, more food is supplied to the central black hole in the combined nucleus, making it larger and more active. This could result in a more powerful wind, which removes the molecular gas and prevents any further taking place, thus leading to an elliptical galaxy.

"By catching molecular outflows in the act, Herschel has finally yielded long-sought-after evidence that powerful processes with negative feedback do take place in and dramatically affect their evolution," adds Göran Pilbratt, ESA's Herschel Project Scientist.

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3.6 / 5 (5) May 09, 2011
Hmmm... What does this observation say about the existence and / or distribution of "Dark Matter" in which a galaxy is supposed to be embedded in order to explain the galaxy's rotation? The loss of significant "visible" matter from a galaxy should affect the balance of gravitational effects of the supposed "dark matter" on the galaxy's rotation. I doubt the existence of dark matter, preferring instead MOG, google "ReInventing Gravity" by John Moffat.

Moffat also emphasizes that "we must buck the trend" in modern theoretical physics of "indulging in speculations that can never be proved or falsified by reality" by once again developing theories that can be tested.


2.6 / 5 (5) May 09, 2011
Just more support for the view that new matter is nucleated and energy is generated within the core mother star of galaxies. The larger the core star, the greater the production. Active galactic nuclei are examples of this process. It may be an inconvenient conclusion for the history of physics, but the evidence is mounting.
2.3 / 5 (3) May 09, 2011
Optically unconfirmed galactic rotation, instead based on red-shift velocity interpretation, supports the need to 'invent' dark matter. The Pioneer anomaly helps confirm a tired-light mechanism over galactic distances that may be a large component of the red-shift data at these extreme distances. Discrete z-data at extreme distances also hints that something is wrong in the red-shift interpretation.
2 / 5 (4) May 09, 2011
Just more support for the view that new matter is nucleated and energy is generated within the core mother star of galaxies.

You are on the right track.

1. Neutron repulsion causes fragmentation of galactic centers and massive stars.

2. Neutron repulsion causes neutron emission from ordinary stars like the Sun.

Hydrogen and Helium that pour from galaxies and stars are waste products, not fuel.

See: "Neutron Repulsion", The APEIRON Journal, in press, 19 pages (2011)

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
not rated yet May 10, 2011
Are the winds massive enough to create a dwarf galaxy?
2.3 / 5 (3) May 10, 2011
Are the winds massive enough to create a dwarf galaxy?

Very likely in most AGN cases. That's why we see satellite galaxies surrounding M31, Milky Way, and many others, and don't see the oncoming intermediate galaxies that are supposed to be on collision courses. They satellites are formed from ejections.
5 / 5 (2) May 10, 2011
The Pioneer anomaly helps confirm a tired-light mechanism over galactic distances that may be a large component of the red-shift data at these extreme distances.

The Pioneer anomaly, as such, is gone. http://arxiv.org/...3.5222v1 To sum up the conclusions, better modelling of the heat radiated by the radioisotope thermal generators accounts for most, if not all of it. It turns out that in addition to the direct radiation of heat, it was also reflected from the back of the radio antenna dish pointed at Earth.

It's a shame that such an interesting effect has such a mundane explanation, but a lot of science is like that. Just noticing a weird effect is not enough to get you a Nobel Prize, it has to be the one in a million, or a billion, that doesn't have a conventional explanation.

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