A black hole and its galaxy are locked in a cosmic struggle, evolving in tandem and balancing each other’s growth. In this artist’s recreation, you can see cosmic winds howling out of supermassive black hole PDS 456. These winds are so strong that they prevent the galaxy from forming new stars.
NASA’s NuSTAR telescope and the ESA’s XMM-Newton telescope together recently observed the cosmic winds from PDS 456, inspiring the image above. The winds themselves are the consequence of a furiously spinning disk of matter that surrounds black holes. NASA explains how this prevents new stars from forming:
Supermassive black holes blast matter into their host galaxies, with X-ray-emitting winds travelling at up to one-third the speed of light. In the new study, astronomers determined PDS 456, an extremely bright black hole known as a quasar more than 2 billion light-years away, sustains winds that carry more energy every second than is emitted by more than a trillion suns.
“Now we know quasar winds significantly contribute to mass loss in a galaxy, driving out its supply of gas, which is fuel for star formation,” said the study’s lead author Emanuele Nardini of Keele University in England.
Read more about how supermassive black holes shape their galaxies from NASA.