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  • Supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies blast radiation and ultra-fast winds outward, as illustrated in this artist's conception. The artwork is based on an image of the Pinwheel galaxy (Messier 101) taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
02/19/2015 12:24:11

NASA, ESA Telescopes Give Shape to Furious Black Hole Winds

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and ESA's (European Space Agency) XMM-Newton telescope are showing that fierce winds from a supermassive black hole blow outward in all directions—a phenomenon that had been suspected, but difficult to prove until now.

This discovery has given astronomers their first opportunity to measure the strength of these ultra-fast winds and prove they are powerful enough to inhibit the host galaxy's ability to make new stars.

"We know black holes in the centers of galaxies can feed on matter, and this process can produce winds. This is thought to regulate the growth of the galaxies," said Fiona Harrison, NuSTAR's principal investigator and the Benjamin M. Rosen Professor of Physics at Caltech. Harrison is a co-author on a new paper about these results appearing in the journal Science. "Knowing the speed, shape and size of the winds, we can now figure out how powerful they are."

Read the full story at JPL News.

Written by Whitney Clavin