A Milky Way twin swept by an ultra-fast X-ray wind

January 14, 2016
A Milky Way twin swept by an ultra-fast X-ray wind
Winds from a spiral galaxy. Credit: ESA

ESA's XMM-Newton has found a wind of high-speed gas streaming from the centre of a bright spiral galaxy like our own that may be reducing its ability to produce new stars.

It is not unusual to find hot winds blowing from the swirling discs of material around supermassive black holes at the centre of .

If powerful enough, these winds can influence their surroundings in various ways. Their primary effect is to sweep away reservoirs of gas that might otherwise have formed stars, but it is also possible that they might trigger the collapse of some clouds to form stars.

Such processes are thought to play a fundamental role in and black holes throughout the Universe's 13.8 billion years.

But they were thought to affect only the largest objects, such as massive elliptical galaxies formed through the dramatic collision and merging of two or more galaxies, which sometimes trigger the winds powerful enough to influence star formation.

Now, for the first time, these winds have been seen in a more normal kind of active galaxy known as a Seyfert, which does not appear to have undergone any merging.

When observed in visible light, almost all Seyfert galaxies have a spiral shape similar to our own Milky Way. However, unlike the Milky Way, Seyferts have bright cores that shine across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, a sign that the supermassive at their centres are not idle but are devouring their surroundings.

A Milky Way twin swept by an ultra-fast X-ray wind
The peculiar wind of a spiral galaxy. Credit: Image: Sloan Digital Sky Survey; Spectrum: Longinotti et al. (2015)

The supermassive black hole at the heart of this particular Seyfert, known as IRAS17020+4544 and located 800 million light-years from Earth, has a mass of nearly six million Suns, drawing in nearby gas and making it shine moderately.

XMM-Newton has found that the winds from around the black hole are moving at 23 000–33 000 km/s, about 10% the speed of light.

An important finding is that the wind from the centre is sufficiently energetic to heat the gas in the galaxy and suppress star formation – the first time it has been seen in a relatively normal spiral galaxy.

"It's the first solid case of an ultra-fast X-ray outflow observed in a 'normal' Seyfert galaxy," says Anna Lia Longinotti from the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica of Puebla, Mexico, lead author of the paper describing the results in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The galaxy has another surprise: the X-ray emission from the fast winds from galactic cores are usually dominated by iron atoms with many of their electrons stripped off, but this galaxy's winds turn out to be rather unusual, exhibiting lighter elements like oxygen, with no iron detected.

"I was actually very surprised to discover that this wind is made mostly of oxygen because nobody has seen a galaxy like this before," says Anna Lia.

Because the galaxy is broadly similar to our own, it raises questions about the history of the Milky Way and the role that our own central black hole may have played.

"We know, also thanks to recent results obtained by XMM-Newton, that the four-million-solar-mass black hole in our own galaxy has undergone phases of much stronger activities, even only a few hundred years ago," says co-author Matteo Guainazzi, ESA astronomer currently at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

"Of course we cannot be sure, but our discovery implies that fast outflows like those found in IRAS17020+4544 may have once swept through our own Galaxy during one of these active phases.

"This possibility was not considered before, because this 'feedback' from X-ray winds was previously observed only in galaxies very different from the Milky Way."

"XMM-Newton continues to make discoveries with the potential to question our understanding of how the stars in a galaxy and the at its centre co-evolve throughout the history of the Universe," says Norbert Schartel, ESA's XMM-Newton project scientist.

Explore further: Chandra finds supermassive black hole burping nearby

More information: A. L. Longinotti et al. X-Ray High-Resolution Spectroscopy Reveals Feedback In A Seyfert Galaxy From An Ultra-Fast Wind With Complex Ionization And Velocity Structure, The Astrophysical Journal (2015). DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/813/2/L39

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Tuxford
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 14, 2016
Now, for the first time, these winds have been seen in a more normal kind of active galaxy known as a Seyfert, which does not appear to have undergone any merging.

An important finding is that the wind from the centre is sufficiently energetic to heat the gas in the galaxy and suppress star formation – the first time it has been seen in a relatively normal spiral galaxy.


OK, who else other than LaViolette predicted such a condition? Who? This observation is central to his Continuous Creation model. And should not his prediction of such an unexpected observation cause some to consider the basis for his model???

This must be troubling for the merger maniacs. Say it ain't so!
katesisco
2 / 5 (2) Jan 14, 2016
Wondering if this is not a progression cycle of jetting to quiescence?
And wondering if this is not a cycle for stars and not just for the only thing we can see so far, the b h?
Tuxford
1 / 5 (3) Jan 14, 2016
"Of course we cannot be sure, but our discovery implies that fast outflows like those found in IRAS17020+4544 may have once swept through our own Galaxy during one of these active phases.


Indeed, the last major cosmic ray superwave emanating from our galactic center in an active phase coincided with the last ice age and is now illuminating the Crab Nebula.
Tuxford
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 15, 2016
To the General Press:

This is an important story that astronomers will not emphasize to you, since it creates a dramatic embarrassment for their Huge Bang Fantasy model. They have been feeding you a fictional model of the story of the universe for decades, and you have been lapping it up. Time to call them on it.

The universe is not expanding, and did not start with a bang. Only astronomers rhetoric is expanding and excuses growing more explosive. Their repeated mis-interpretations of the data is highly biased in favor to gain institutional acceptance and publication. Careers are at stake here, and so the bias continues, and is the reason that this news will not be highlighted to you. Do not fall for their math fantasy any longer.

This is evidence that instead of growth through merging, galaxies are growing from within by new matter ejections from the core star, growing naturally over time in a continuous manner.
NiteSkyGerl
2.7 / 5 (7) Jan 19, 2016
What a fucking idiot. Can these cranks really not hear that their "theories" are always about their own unappreciated greatness and say little or nothing about the phenomena? Meanwhile, unable to hold a job, have a relationship, function socially at a middling level...
Tuxford
1 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2016
LaViolette has now commented on this story:

http://etheric.co...0204544/

He corrects the author's misstatement that these extreme outflows were not considered before, since LaViolette predicted such outflows in his 1983 dissertation.

It is simply that mainstream astronomers have not considered it before, since, well, they are merger maniacs!
Tuxford
1 / 5 (2) Mar 12, 2016
Worth emphasizing from LaViolette's comment:

'The wind was observed to be moving away from the galaxy's active core at a velocity of 23,000 to 33,000 km/s, or at about 10% of the speed of light. This galaxy is of particular interest because it has a shape similar to our own and a supermassive core of mass 5.9 X 106 solar masses, slightly more massive than our own Galactic core, Sgr A*. Ultrafast winds had previously been identified in more massive elliptical galaxies. This was the first time one has been found in a galaxy similar to our own. This provides further confirmation for the reality of superwaves, a theory first proposed 33 years ago (LaViolette, 1983). According to this theory these high velocity winds observed to exit from active nuclei would be driven by cosmic ray volleys propagating outward along radial trajectories.'

10% of C ejected from only a moderate core star!
Tuxford
1 / 5 (2) Mar 12, 2016
and

'If anything, this finding of high velocity winds coming from active cores underlines the fact that active galactic cores are not black holes powered by matter accreted from their surroundings. Because with such a strong wind, no matter would succeed in falling into the core. Any nearby dust or cometary material would be vaporized and pushed outward.'

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