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‘Death Star’ black holes shoot powerful beams at multiple targets

While astronomers cannot say whether the jets released by black holes can damage stars or planets, they certainly influence the evolution of galaxies.

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According to a study published in The Astrophysical Journal, astronomers have discovered how supermassive black holes shoot jets of matter into space and then change the direction of these shots to hit another target.

Scientists have compared these black holes to the fictional Death Star space station from the Star Wars film universe, which destroyed planets with its rays. The result of a new study helps to better understand the influence of supermassive black holes on the galaxies around them.

Astronomers used observations from the Chandra Space Telescope and the VLBA robotic ground-based telescope system to study 16 supermassive black holes at the centers of different galaxies. The study showed that black hole jets can change direction by almost 90 degrees.

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According to scientists, these black holes spin and shoot out jets of matter at different targets, just like the fictional Death Star space station did in Star Wars.

Powerful magnetic fields around supermassive black holes drive charged particles toward the black holes’ poles at nearly the speed of light. After this, these particles fly out in the form of two jets in opposite directions from different poles of the black hole.

They studied the direction of movement of jets of black holes, consisting of high-energy particles that flew into space at almost the speed of light. The direction of movement of the jets was indicated by cavities in the interstellar gas.

Powerful magnetic fields around supermassive black holes drive charged particles toward the black holes’ poles at nearly the speed of light. After this, these particles fly out in the form of two jets in opposite directions from different poles of the black hole.

When these jets collide with hot gas in the surrounding galaxy, their energy prevents the interstellar gas from cooling and creating super-dense gas clouds. It is from them, when clouds are compressed under the influence of gravity, that new stars arise.

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Thus, a grown black hole jet can interrupt this process. If the jets change their direction, then the number of areas in the galaxy where new stars cannot appear increases.

Because the black holes that astronomers have studied are so far away, it is unknown whether their jets could damage stars or planets. But the authors of the study cannot yet say exactly how supermassive black holes can change the direction of their jets.

Supermassive black holes rotate, and their jets should align with their axis of rotation, that is, the imaginary line connecting the poles.

One suggestion is that as the accretion disk rotates around the black hole, matter falling into the black hole at different angles may shift the black hole’s spin axis. As a result, the jets will be thrown in a different direction.

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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of anomalien.com, a website he created in 2013.