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Our Galaxy’s Black Hole Is Not As Deadly As First Thought

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A study published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society has indicated that, contrary to past theories, supermassive black holes are not responsible for starving their host galaxies to death.

Led by Macquarie University PhD candidate Michael Cowley, the researchers concluded that it’s unlikely that the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole is starving our galaxy of its precious star-forming fuel supply. “This work has the potential to rewrite our understanding of how the Milky Way and similar galaxies form and evolve over cosmic time,” Cowley said.

“It also spells good news for us as inhabitants within the Milky Way given it, like most massive galaxies, contains a supermassive black hole within – which may no longer be considered as significant a threat as previously thought.”

Over the past decade numerous studies have investigated how supermassive black holes may impact their host galaxies. The consensus has been that blazing energy from the black holes can doom embryonic stars before they are even born. The remaining stars then age and die, but are never replaced, which leads to the death of the galaxy.

However, these past studies tended to investigate only nearby or massive galaxies that host supermassive black holes, or were limited to a particular observational wavelength such as X-ray observations.

In the new study, the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.