Astronomers discover how black holes feed

An unprecedented find. A group of astronomers manage to capture the process of nuclear power by a black hole galaxy NGC 1566, through the detection of a new class of filaments.

This new discovery complements the efforts to understand black holes, a collaborative work led by the researcher from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) Almudena Prieto and whose results were published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The images obtained were captured together by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Very Large Telescope (VLT), of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), allowing to record a process never seen before.

“This network of telescopes provides us with a completely new perspective of a supermassive black hole thanks to the images in high angular resolution and the panoramic visualization of its surroundings, so we can follow the fading of the dust filaments precipitating inside it”, says the principal investigator, Almudena Prieto.

As the study describes, the researchers were able to appreciate a photograph that shows how the dust filaments divide to go directly to the center of the galaxy where they circulate and spiral around the black hole until they are swallowed by it.

The IAC’s long-term project seeks to study the activities of these cosmic bodies after a long time of hibernation.