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Swift Survey Finds 'Smoking Gun' of Black Hole Activation

Astronomers using X-ray data from an ongoing survey by NASA's Swift satellite have solved a decades-long mystery. Why, when most galaxies host giant black holes in their centers, do only about one percent of them emit vast amounts of energy?

The new findings confirm that the black holes "light up" when galaxies collide -- and may offer insight into the future behavior of the black hole in our own galaxy.

The intense emission from galaxy centers, or nuclei, arises near a supermassive black hole containing between a million and a billion times the sun's mass. Giving off as much as 10 billion times the sun's energy, some of these active galactic nuclei (AGN) -- a class that includes quasars and blazars -- are the most luminous objects in the universe.

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More information on this topic available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/swift

This simulation follows the collision of two spiral galaxies that harbor giant black holes. The collision merges the black holes and stirs up gas in both galaxies. The merged black hole gorges on the feast and lights up, forming an active galactic nucleus called a quasar and creating a    This simulation follows the collision of two spiral galaxies that harbor giant black holes. The collision merges the black holes and stirs up gas in both galaxies. The merged black hole gorges on the feast and lights up, forming an active galactic nucleus called a quasar and creating a "wind" that blows away much of the galaxy's gas.

See the original animation at:

http://web.phys.cmu.edu/~tiziana/BHGrow/.

Credit:Volker Springel and Tiziana Di Matteo (Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics), Lars Hernquist (Harvard Univ.)
Duration: 1.6 minutes
Available formats:
  960x540 (29.97 fps) WEBM         6 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         462 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-2   68 MB
  1280x720 (30 fps) QT         44 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   42 MB
  960x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   28 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         22 MB
  640x360 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   14 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   8 MB
  320x180 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   4 MB
  352x240 (29.97 fps) MPEG-1   21 MB
  1280x720   PNG           370 KB
  320x180     PNG           95 KB
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These images show the optical counterparts of several AGN detected by the Swift BAT Hard X-ray Survey. The galaxy shapes are either physically intertwined or distorted by the gravity of nearby neighbors. The active black holes (circled) were known prior to the Swift survey, but Swift has found dozens of new AGN in more distant galaxies. Credit: NASA/Swift/NOAO/Michael Koss and Richard Mushotzky (Univ. of Maryland)    These images show the optical counterparts of several AGN detected by the Swift BAT Hard X-ray Survey. The galaxy shapes are either physically intertwined or distorted by the gravity of nearby neighbors. The active black holes (circled) were known prior to the Swift survey, but Swift has found dozens of new AGN in more distant galaxies.

Credit: NASA/Swift/NOAO/Michael Koss and Richard Mushotzky (Univ. of Maryland)

Available formats:
  4812 x 3000     JPEG       5 MB


Merging galaxies image without annotation. Credit: NASA/Swift/NOAO/Michael Koss and Richard Mushotzky (Univ. of Maryland)    Merging galaxies image without annotation.

Credit: NASA/Swift/NOAO/Michael Koss and Richard Mushotzky (Univ. of Maryland)

Available formats:
  4812 x 3000     JPEG       5 MB

Short URL to This Page:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?10549
Animation Number:10549
Completed:2010-05-17
Video Editor:Scott Wiessinger (UMBC)
Producer:Scott Wiessinger (UMBC)
Scientists:Michael Koss (University of Maryland)
 Richard Mushotzky (University of Maryland)
Writer:Francis Reddy (SPSYS)
Platform/Sensor/Data Set:Swift
Series:Astrophysics Simulations
Goddard TV Tape:G2010-139 -- Various Small Astrophysics projects
Please give credit for this page to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. However, each image should be credited as indicated above.
 
Keywords:
SVS >> Galaxy
SVS >> HDTV
DLESE >> Space science
SVS >> Black Hole
SVS >> Active Galaxy
SVS >> Universe
SVS >> Space
SVS >> Swift
SVS >> Active Galactic Nucleus
NASA Science >> Universe
 
 


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Many of our multimedia items use the GCMD keywords. These keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0

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