'Intergalactic Rain' Falls Into Black Hole, Captured For the First Time
Supermassive black holes experience rough weather, too.
The mystery of black holes, believed to be an eternal prison in space, has bewildered scientists for decades. But thanks to the increasing amount of information available, researchers can delve into black holes even more.
A study conducted by the astronomers from Yale University discovered that Abell 2597, within an elliptical galaxy one billion light years away, is experiencing its own weather where an "intergalactic rain" was observed for the first time.
"This so-called cold, chaotic accretion has been a major theoretical prediction in recent years, but this is one of the first unambiguous pieces of observational evidence for a chaotic, cold 'rain' feeding a supermassive black hole," said Grant Tremblay lead author of the study, in a statement. "It's exciting to think we might actually be observing this galaxy-spanning 'rainstorm' feeding a black hole whose mass is about 300 million times that of our sun."
The intergalactic "rain" was observed using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. The study, which was published in Nature, said that the discovery is somewhat different from how scientists view supermassive black holes before, which usually feed on hot gas from a host galaxy.
According to the study, some circumstances produce rain cloud that directly falls into the center of the galaxy. The study likened it to the process of how Earth form rain clouds.
But the "intergalactic rain" referred to in the study is not really rain like people know it. It is actually cold gas bubbles from clouds rushing towards the black holes. This occurrence has already been predicted before, but it was only now that it has been observed, billions of light years away. According to Popular Science, researchers have noticed shadows of gas bubbles leading them to discover and observe the rain for the first time.
Tremblay, the lead author of the study, believes that the weather in the galaxies behaves differently. And because of their findings, the researchers are more inspired to discover other weather patterns in the galaxy.