Mar 27, 2020

ALMA Resolves Gas Impacted by Young Jets from Supermassive Black Hole


Overview of the press release

Astronomers obtained the first resolved image of disturbed gaseous clouds in a galaxy 11 billion light-years away by using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The team led by Kaiki Inoue (Kindai University) and Takeo Minezaki (the University of Tokyo) found that the disruption is caused by young powerful jets ejected from a supermassive black hole residing at the center of the host galaxy. This result will cast light on the mystery of the evolutionary process of galaxies in the early Universe.

It is commonly known that black holes exert strong gravitational attraction on surrounding matter. However, it is less well known that some black holes have fast-moving streams of ionized matter, called jets. In some nearby galaxies, evolved jets blow off galactic gaseous clouds, resulting in suppressed star formation. Therefore, to understand the evolution of galaxies, it is crucial to observe the interaction between black hole jets and gaseous clouds throughout the cosmic history. However, it had been difficult to obtain the clear evidence of such interaction, especially in the early Universe.

The team observed an interesting object MG J0414+0534 at a distance of 11 billion light year with ALMA. MG J0414+0534 has a supermassive black hole with bipolar jets at the center of the host galaxy. A distinctive feature is that the paths of light traveling from MG J0414+0534 to Earth are significantly distorted by the gravity of another ‘lensing’ galaxy in between, causing significant magnification, working as a ‘natural telescope’. Combining this cosmic telescope and ALMA’s high-resolution observations, we obtained exceptionally sharp vision with an angular resolution of 0.007 arcsecond. Thanks to such a superior resolution, the team found that gaseous clouds along the jets have violent motion, showing clear evidence of significant interaction between them in a galaxy 11 billion light-years away for the first time.

These observation results are presented in K. T. Inoue et al. “ALMA 50-parsec resolution imaging of jet-ISM interaction in the lensed quasar MGJ0414+0534” appeared in the Astrophysical Journal Letters on March 27, 2020.

Figure 1 : Artist's impression of MG J0414+0534. The central supermassive black hole has just emitted powerful jets, which are disturbing the surrounding gas in the host galaxy. Credit: Kindai University.


More details are presented in the press releases at Kindai University, Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica, and National Astronomical Observatory, Japan.


Publication details

Journal The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Title ALMA 50-parsec resolution imaging of jet-ISM interaction in the lensed quasar MG J0414+0534
Authors Inoue, K. T. (Faculty of Science and Engineering, Kindai University)
Matsushita, S. (Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica)
Nakanishi, K. (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan/SOKENDAI)
Minezaki, T. (School of Science, the University of Tokyo)
DOI 10.3847/2041-8213/ab7b7e


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