The Relationship Between a Galaxy and its Black-Hole-Heart? ‘It’s Complicated.’

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered a surprising connection between a supermassive black hole and the galaxy where it resides.

Powerful radio jets from the black hole – which normally suppress star formation – are stimulating the production of cold gas in the galaxy’s extended halo of hot gas. This newly identified supply of cold, dense gas could eventually fuel future star birth as well as feed the black hole itself.

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Written and Narrated by Charles Blue (NRAO/AUI/NSF). Produced by Alexandra Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF). Animations and footage courtesy of Alexandra Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF); NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab; ESO.

Science Image courtesy of ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); Hubble Space Telescope (NASA/ESA); NASA/CXC/MIT/M.McDonald; Bill Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF).

Music by Mark Mercury