Research shows that supermassive black holes influence the chemical composition of their host galaxies

New research shows that the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy can directly impact the chemical distribution of the host galaxy. This provides another piece of the puzzle to understand how galaxies evolve. It is well known that active supermassive black holes can create major changes in their host galaxies by heating and removing interstellar gas from the galaxy. But the compact size of black holes, their distance from Earth, and their obscuration by dust in galaxies make it difficult to measure the chemical distribution of gas around a growing supermassive black hole. work. In this study, an international team of researchers led by Toshiki Saito of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and Taku Nakajima of Nagoya University used ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array) to observe close to the central area of ​​Messier 77 located 51.4 million light years away. towards the constellation Cetus. Messier 77 is a relatively close example of a galaxy containing an active supermassive black hole. Their work was published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Using ALMA’s high spatial resolution and new machine learning analysis techniques, the team was able to map the distribution of 23 molecules. This is the first study to objectively describe the distribution of all molecules discovered through objective observations. The results show that along the path of dipole jets emitted near the black hole, molecules commonly found in galaxies, such as carbon monoxide (CO), appear to decay, while the concentration of the molecules especially as isomers of HCN and cyanide radical (CN) increase. This is direct evidence that supermassive black holes influence not only the large-scale structure but also the chemical composition of their host galaxies.


More information: The Astrophysical Journal (2023). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ace4c7

The Astrophysical Journal (2022). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ac80ff