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Black hole activity determines star formation

Eso/Wfi (Optical); Mpifr/Eso/Apex/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimeter); Nasa/Cxc/Cfa/R.Kraft et al. (X-Ray) Jets emitted near the black hole at the center of the Centaurus A galaxyEso/Wfi (Optical); Mpifr/Eso/Apex/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimeter); Nasa/Cxc/Cfa/R.Kraft et al. (X-Ray)

Two recent studies suggest that the formation and number of stars in a galaxy depend on the characteristics of the supermassive black hole at its center. A team of astrophysicists from the US and Canada showed that the wind jets produced by a black hole in galaxy 3C 298, 9.3 billion light-years from Earth, caused fewer stars to be formed (The Astrophysical Journal, December 20). According to calculations by the researchers, the galaxy has 100 times fewer stars than expected due to the size of its black hole, which heats up and reduces the density of nearby gas, a raw material that when cooled, leads to the formation of stars. Another study, coordinated by a team from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), USA, analyzed the correlation between the size of the black hole and the number of stars in 74 galaxies with active nuclei, and reached similar results (Nature, January 1). “For galaxies with the same mass of stars but different black hole mass in the center, those galaxies with bigger black holes were quenched earlier and faster than those with smaller black holes,” observed astrophysicist Ignacio Martín-Navarro, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSC and lead author of the study. The mass of the black holes in these galaxies is millions of times larger than that of our Sun.