A fitting finale for 2020…this galactic fireworks display involves a supermassive black hole, enormous shock waves and vast reservoirs of gas, taking place in spiral galaxy NGC 4258, which is famous for its two extra spiral arms that glow in X-ray, optical and radio light, say NASA astronomers. “These anomalous arms are not aligned with the plane of the galaxy, but instead intersect with it.”
Recent observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope show that shock waves are heating huge amounts of gas — equivalent to about 10 million suns, created by the supermassive black hole at the center of NGC 4258 is producing powerful jets of high-energy particles,” the researchers said. “These jets strike the disk of the galaxy and generate shock waves. These shock waves, in turn, heat the gas — composed mainly of hydrogen molecules — to thousands of degrees.”
Chandra X-Ray observations reveal huge bubbles of hot gas above and below the plane of the monster galaxy that indicate that much of the gas that was originally in the disk of the galaxy has been heated and ejected into the outer regions by the jets from the black hole,” the astronomers said. “The ejection of gas from the disk by the jets has important implications for the fate of this galaxy.”
They estimate that all of the remaining gas will be ejected within the next 300 million years unless it is somehow replenished, because most of the gas in the disk has already been ejected, less gas is available for new stars to form.
The Daily Galaxy via NASA
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