Hubble Captures a Black Hole That is Forming Stars, Not Absorbing Them

The Hubble Space Telescope observed a black spot at the center a dwarf galaxy. This isn’t the destructive giants that they are often depicted as. This black hole is actually creating stars, rather than absorption them.

The black hole lies at the center in dwarf galaxy Henize 2-10, which is located 30 million light-years from the southern constellation Pyxis. NASA claims that the black hole contributes to the “firestorm” of star formation in the galaxy.

A Galaxy 1/10 the Size of the Milky Way

Henize 2-10, which was discovered at its core ten years ago, was the subject of much debate about whether dwarf galaxies could be home to black holes that are larger than the supermassive ones located in the centers of large galaxies. Henize 2-10, which has only one-tenth of the stars in the Milky Way, has been detected at its core as a blackhole and isn’t acting as expected. This may play a significant role in discovering where supermassive black hole origins.

Dwarf Galaxy Henize 2-10

Reines states, “From the beginning I knew something extraordinary and special was occurring in Henize 2-10. Now Hubble has provided an extremely clear picture of the link between the blackhole and a nearby star-forming area located 230 light years from the blackhole.”

Opposite to the Expected Behaviour

It is quite unusual to see stars being made in a larger galaxy. You can see gas swirling around Henize 2-10’s black hole before it collides with a dense “cocoon” of gas in the galaxy.

Hubble spectroscopy showed that the outflow was traveling at a speed of one million miles an hour. It hit dense gas like a gardenhose, hitting dirt piles and then spreading out. The path of the outflow’s spread is marked by new star clusters, their ages were also calculated using Hubble,” NASA explains.

Pullout of the central region of Henize 2-10

This is in contrast to what you see in larger galaxies. Here, materials falling towards the black holes are pushed away by magnetic fields. These create blazing plasma jets that travel at the speed of light. Gas clouds caught in this path will be too hot to cool down and would eventually form stars. Star formation is possible because of the gentler gas outflow from Henize 2-10’s black hole.

Henize 2-10, which is only 30 million light years away, was close enough for Hubble to capture both images as well as spectroscopic evidence of an outflowing black hole. Reines’ graduate student Zachary Schutte is the lead author of the new study.

“Hubble’s remarkable resolution clearly shows a corkscrew pattern in the gas velocities, which we can match to the model for a precessing or wobbling outflow from the black hole. Reines says that a supernova remnant wouldn’t have such a pattern. “This is our smoking gun proof that this is indeed a black hole.”

A Step towards Solving a Persistent Problem

Astronomers continue to puzzle over how supermassive blackholes form. The relationship between Henize 2-10 (and its black hole) may provide clues.

“The age of the first black hole is not something we have been able see. So it has become the big question: Where did they come? Reines says that dwarf galaxies might have some memories of the black holes seeding scenario, which is not possible in space and time.