Spaceflight Now Home



Spaceflight Now +



Premium video content for our Spaceflight Now Plus subscribers.

Shuttle crew in training
Astronauts Soichi Noguchi and Steve Robinson go under water in the Neutral Bouyancy Lab's gigantic pool to practice spacewalk activities for the upcoming STS-114 return-to-flight space shuttle mission. (3min 45sec file)
 Play video

Visiting the Cape
The STS-114 return-to-flight space shuttle crew visits Kennedy Space Center to inspect Discovery and the new sensor boom that will look for orbiter launch damage. (2min 22sec file)
 Play video

Day of Remembrance
NASA pays tribute to those lost while furthering the cause of exploration, including the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, during this Day of Remembrance memorial from agency headquarters on Jan. 27. (38min 58sec file)

 Play video:
   Dial-up | Broadband

 Download audio:
   For iPod

Shuttle's new inspector
The Orbiter Boom Sensor System is loaded into space shuttle Discovery's payload bay. The arm will be used to inspect the shuttle for damage following the return-to-flight launch. (4min 18sec file)
 Play video

Spacewalk highlights
The Expedition 10 conducts a successful spacewalk outside the International Space Station to mount a German robotic arm and Russian science package to the Zvezda service module's exterior. (5min 07sec file)
 Play video

Huygens science update
One week after the Huygens probe landed on Saturn's moon Titan, scientists hold a news conference to announce additional results and describe more pictures from the mission. (69min 02sec file)

 Play video:
   Dial-up | Broadband

ISS spacewalk preview
The upcoming spacewalk by the International Space Station's Expedition 10 crew is previewed by NASA officials at the Johnson Space Center on Jan. 21. (25min 04sec file)

 Play video:
   Dial-up | Broadband

Launch of Deep Impact!
A Boeing Delta 2 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral carrying NASA's comet-smashing probe called Deep Impact. This extended clip follows the mission through second stage ignition and jettison of the rocket's nose cone. (5min 37sec file)
 Play video

Press Site view
A camera located at Cape Canaveral's Press Site 1 location offers this view of the Delta rocket's ascent. (1min 24sec file)
 Play video

Become a subscriber
More video



NewsAlert



Sign up for our NewsAlert service and have the latest news in astronomy and space e-mailed direct to your desktop.

Enter your e-mail address:

Privacy note: your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose.



Good news from big bad black holes
LLNL NEWS RELEASE
Posted: January 31, 2005

Astronomers have discovered how ominous black holes can create life in the form of new stars, proving that jet-induced star formation may have played an important role in the formation of galaxies in the early universe.


Using the Very Large Array (VLA) at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in New Mexico, the Keck telescopes in Hawaii and the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers Wil van Breugel and Steve Croft have shown that "Minkowski's Object," a peculiar starburst system in the NGC 541 radio galaxy, formed when a radio jet ­ undetectable in visible light but revealed by radio observations­ emitted from a black hole collided with dense gas.
 
The researchers carried out the observations after computer simulations at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory by Chris Fragile, Peter Anninos and Stephen Murray had shown that jets may trigger the collapse of interstellar clouds and induce star formation.

"Some 20 years ago this kind of thinking was thought to be science fiction," said van Breugel, who along with Croft works at the Laboratory's Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics. "It brings poetic justice to black holes because we think of them as sucking things in, but we've shown that when a jet emits from a black hole, it can bring new life by collapsing clouds and creating new stars."

Radio jets are formed when material falls into massive black holes. Magnetic fields around the black holes accelerate electrons to almost the speed of light. These electrons are then propelled out in narrow jets and radiate at radio frequencies because of their motion in the magnetic fields. The jets may affect the formation of stars when they collide with dense gas.

Using the Near Infrared Camera (NIRC) at the Keck Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope, this false-color image incorporates infrared data (invisible to the human eye) and does not include the radio jet. Click here for high-resolution image.

But only recently have van Breugel and Croft figured out how this happens. The regions between stars in a galaxy are filled with mainly gas and dust, and are commonly called the interstellar medium. The gas appears primarily in two forms as cold clouds of atomic or molecular hydrogen or as hot ionized hydrogen near young stars.

In the case of the recent discovery, the Livermore researchers observed that when a radio jet ran into a hot dense hydrogen medium in NGC 541, the medium started to cool down and formed a large neutral hydrogen cloud and, in turn, triggered star formation. Although the cloud did not emit visible radiation, it was detected by its radio frequency emission.

"The formation of massive black holes is critical to the formation of new galaxies," Croft said.

Van Breugel, who has been studying black holes since his days as a postdoctoral fellow more than 20 years ago, said the recent observations are another good reason to study the relationship between black holes and early galaxies. He said the conditions his team saw in NGC 541 may be important in understanding the formation of galaxies in the early universe.

"Our observations show that jets from black holes can trigger extra star formation. In the early universe this process may be important because the galaxies are still young, with lots of hydrogen gas but few stars, and the black holes are more active," he said.

According to the big bang theory, the universe is believed to have originated approximately 13.5 billion years ago from a cosmic explosion that hurled matter in all directions.

Although van Breugel and Croft observed the jets by using the VLA, Keck and Hubbel images, they also said that the Livermore computer simulations by Fragile, Anninos and Murray were crucial to verify that this is happening.

NGC 541 is approximately 216 million light years from Earth and is roughly half the size of the Milky Way.

In addition to van Breugel and Croft, other collaborators on the project include W. de Vries, UC Davis; J. H. van Gorkom, Columbia University; R. Morganti and T. Osterloo, ASTRON, Netherlands; M. Dopita, Australian National University; C. Fragile, UC Santa Barbara; and Anninos and Murray, LLNL.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Ares 1-X Patch
The official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
 U.S. STORE

Expedition 21
The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Hubble Patch
The official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

INDEX | PLUS | NEWS ARCHIVE | LAUNCH SCHEDULE
ASTRONOMY NOW | STORE

ADVERTISE

© 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.