Astrophysicists detect ultra-fast winds near supermassive black hole

March 21, 2016
Artist's illustration of turbulent winds of gas swirling around a black hole. Some of the gas is spiraling inward, but some is being blown away. Credit: NASA, and M. Weiss (Chandra X -ray Center)

New research led by astrophysicists at York University has revealed the fastest winds ever seen at ultraviolet wavelengths near a supermassive black hole.

"We're talking of 20 per cent the speed of light, which is more than 200 million kilometres an hour. That's equivalent to a category 77 hurricane," says Jesse Rogerson, who led the research as part of his PhD thesis in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at York U. "And we have reason to believe that there are quasar winds that are even faster."

Astronomers have known about the existence of quasar winds since the late 1960s. At least one in four have them. Quasars are the discs of hot gas that form around at the centre of - they are bigger than Earth's orbit around the sun and hotter than the surface of the sun, generating enough light to be seen across the observable universe.

"Black holes can have a mass that is billions of times larger than the sun, mostly because they are messy eaters in a way, capturing any material that ventures too close," says York University Associate Professor Patrick Hall, who is Rogerson's supervisor. "But as matter spirals toward a black hole, some of it is blown away by the heat and light of the quasar. These are the winds that we are detecting."

Rogerson and his team used data from a large survey of the sky known as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to identify new outflows from quasars. After spotting about 300 examples, they selected about 100 for further exploration, collecting data with the Gemini Observatory's twin telescopes in Hawaii and Chile, in which Canada has a major share.

"We not only confirmed this fastest-ever ultraviolet wind, but also discovered a new wind in the same quasar moving more slowly, at only 140 million kilometres an hour," says Hall. "We plan to keep watching this quasar to see what happens next."

Much of this research is aimed at better understanding outflows from quasars and why they happen.

"Quasar winds play an important role in galaxy formation," says Rogerson. "When galaxies form, these winds fling material outwards and deter the creation of stars. If such winds didn't exist or were less powerful, we would see far more stars in big galaxies than we actually do."

The team's findings were published today in the print edition of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Explore further: Quasar gas clouds: Gone, with the wind

More information: Jesse A. Rogerson et al. Multi-epoch observations of extremely high-velocity emergent broad absorption, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2016). DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv3010, http://arxiv.org/abs/1509.02842].

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16 comments

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Tuxford
1.6 / 5 (9) Mar 21, 2016
"We're talking wind speeds of 20 per cent the speed of light, which is more than 200 million kilometres an hour. That's equivalent to a category 77 hurricane,"


Accretion models??? Want to buy a bridge?

"We not only confirmed this fastest-ever ultraviolet wind, but also discovered a new wind in the same quasar moving more slowly, at only 140 million kilometres an hour,"


At only.... Want to buy a bridge?

In light of these types of winds obviously preventing an external source of growth, how can one take a merger maniac seriously?

http://phys.org/n...tml#nRlv

http://phys.org/n...tml#nRlv

Consider the evolution of galaxies as growing from within, and note a natural progression in size correlating with core activity and wind speeds, etc. Why is this so hard for merger maniacs to see? They look but do not see.
viko_mx
Mar 21, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
bschott
1 / 5 (4) Mar 21, 2016
"But as matter spirals toward a black hole, some of it is blown away by the heat and light of the quasar. These are the winds that we are detecting."


Heat and light are photons, they are saying photons are propelling matter to 20% of speed C. Is there a precedent for stating this or is the editor of this article confused?

the fastest winds ever seen at ultraviolet wavelengths near a supermassive black hole.

"We not only confirmed this fastest-ever ultraviolet wind,


So infrared photons and visible photons produce a wind composed of UV photons, and said wind then propels matter to 20% speed C.

Photon wind......nice to be back.

Da Schneib
4 / 5 (4) Mar 21, 2016
Interestingly, it seems that two factors militate against rapid star formation in galaxies: these quasar winds, and infalling hot hydrogen from the intergalactic medium.

Makes one wonder how galaxies form in the first place.
travisbrainerd
not rated yet Mar 21, 2016
Makes one wonder how galaxies form in the first place.


It's because of gravity, and forces of thermodynamics, no?

When remembering how general relativity works, black holes dilate time to what would take the entire history of the universe for a single particle to enter its event horizon. Could it be possible that quasar winds are the Big Bang dilated (or at least all the energy projected holographically into 4+ dimensions)?
JongDan
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 21, 2016
That's equivalent to a category 77 hurricane

What's this guy smoking? Extending the hurricane categories doesn't make sense, as the scale is neither linear nor logarithmic and the category 5 is supposed to be open-ended anyway.
Da Schneib
3 / 5 (2) Mar 21, 2016
Makes one wonder how galaxies form in the first place.


It's because of gravity, and forces of thermodynamics, no?
I was just commenting that given all the things that disrupt galaxy formation, it's interesting that we see lots of galaxies.
travisbrainerd
not rated yet Mar 22, 2016
I was just commenting that given all the things that disrupt galaxy formation, it's interesting that we see lots of galaxies.

Yes it certainly is. It makes a pale blue dot like Earth seem pretty special. But then again, that's the power of billions of years and billions of galactic centers to form around.
cantdrive85
1.9 / 5 (9) Mar 22, 2016
Makes one wonder how galaxies form in the first place.


It's because of gravity, and forces of thermodynamics, no?
I was just commenting that given all the things that disrupt galaxy formation, it's interesting that we see lots of galaxies.

We see lots of galaxies because reality cares not for astrophysicists feeble guesses as to how the Universe works. The problem is not the observations, but it's the hypotheses! And this goes for not only galaxies but also stars and planets. The whole of the accretion hypotheses is meaningless pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (5) Mar 22, 2016
We see lots of galaxies because reality cares not for astrophysicists feeble guesses as to how the Universe works.
Non sequitur much? We see lots of galaxies courtesy of the astronomers, astrophysicists, cosmologists, etc. who, with their hard work and dedication, keep improving and adding to our abilities to see things otherwise not visible to the unaided eye.
bschott
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 23, 2016
Non sequitur much? We see lots of galaxies courtesy of the astronomers, astrophysicists, cosmologists, etc. who, with their hard work and dedication, keep improving and adding to our abilities to see things otherwise not visible to the unaided eye.


Technically, we see what we see because of the engineers, technicians and materials physicists who build and design the instruments the above use....the above point the instruments and interpret what they see based on the theories they support.

After they observed this quasar we are told an invisible object with extreme gravity is generating a photonic wind that can accelerate matter to 20% of the speed of light away from said invisible object. (according to the article)

To TRY to make that physically viable is hard work indeed and does require a lot of dedication.

Let's not confuse hard work and dedication with PRODUCING a physically viable conclusion.

Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Mar 23, 2016
Interestingly, it seems that two factors militate against rapid star formation in galaxies: these quasar winds, and infalling hot hydrogen from the intergalactic medium.

Makes one wonder how galaxies form in the first place.

At the interface of the disrupting mediums.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (3) Mar 23, 2016
Interestingly, it seems that two factors militate against rapid star formation in galaxies: these quasar winds, and infalling hot hydrogen from the intergalactic medium.

Makes one wonder how galaxies form in the first place.

At the interface of the disrupting mediums.
Ahhh, a chaos argument. Not bad, Whyde.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Mar 23, 2016
At the interface of the disrupting mediums.

Ahhh, a chaos argument. Not bad, Whyde.

Thanks, Da.
There's always an interface, a buffer zone whereby the two opposing "forces" mediate (balance) each others actions.
The Universe is ALL about balance and action/reaction symmetry.
And, in what appears to be an infinite setting, that can't be an easy job...:-)
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Mar 23, 2016
There's another factor at work here, which is that star formation packs the dust and gas in the spots between the newborn stars together, yielding further star formation. One of the easiest places to see this is in the Eagle Nebula, in the Hubble shot named "Pillars of Creation."

It's also interesting to contemplate the fact that the infalling hot hydrogen may be from nearby quasars, causing them to inhibit star formation two different ways.

There's another article more recently published on here regarding the mechanism by which quasars suppress star formation titled "Quasars slowed star formation" that has some consilience with this one and is definitely worth a read.
chileastro
1 / 5 (1) Mar 26, 2016
This "journalism" that accepts and assumes that nothing has any value or meaning unless it can be related to everyday human experience is really bankrupt and completely without integrity. You see it every day, but this has to get the prize this month for the very, very worst.

That's equivalent to a category 77 hurricane

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