The secret of galactic birth control revealed

Astronomers may have finally discovered the secret of starbirth in large galaxies. 

Young galaxies blaze with bright new stars forming at a rapid rate, but star formation eventually shuts down as a galaxy evolves - but nobody has known why.

A new study shows that the mass of the black hole in the center of the galaxy determines how soon the switch happens. 

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Billions of old stars cause the diffuse glow of the extended central bulge in the Sombrero Galaxy. The very center of the Sombrero glows across the electromagnetic spectrum, and is thought to house a large black hole. A new study shows that the mass of the black hole in the center of the galaxy determines how soon the galaxy stops making new stars

HOW IT WORKS 

The energy pouring into a galaxy from an active galactic nucleus is thought to turn off star formation by heating and dispelling the gas that would otherwise condense into stars as it cooled.  

But observational evidence of a connection between supermassive black holes and star formation has been lacking, until now.

Every massive galaxy has a central supermassive black hole, more than a million times more massive than the sun, revealing its presence through its gravitational effects on the galaxy's stars and sometimes powering the energetic radiation from an active galactic nucleus (AGN). 

 

Every massive galaxy has a central supermassive black hole, more than a million times more massive than the sun, revealing its presence through its gravitational effects on the galaxy's stars and sometimes powering the energetic radiation from an active galactic nucleus (AGN). 

The energy pouring into a galaxy from an active galactic nucleus is thought to turn off star formation by heating and dispelling the gas that would otherwise condense into stars as it cooled. 

But observational evidence of a connection between supermassive black holes and star formation has been lacking, until now.

'We've been dialing in the feedback to make the simulations work out, without really knowing how it happens,' said Jean Brodie, professor of astronomy and astrophysics

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