Largest ever black hole blast or intense ever quasar outflow studied; Research

Scientists have found the most powerful blast from a black hole ever studied resulting in the most intense quasar outflow ever found.

This research is going to be published online in The Astrophysical Journal.

Scientists have studied these energetic materials – known as SDSS J1106+1939 – with the help of X-shooter instrument on ESO’s VLT at the Paranal Observatory in Chile.

Artist's depiction of ejected material around the supermassive black hole in the quasar SDSS J1106+1939 (Credit: ESO/L. Calçada)

Although blackholes are popular for their ability to attract everything with great amount of gravity but many quasars can also speed up the material around them ejecting them at high speed.

“We have discovered the most energetic quasar outflow known to date. The rate that energy is carried away by this huge mass of material ejected at high speed from SDSS J1106+1939 is at least equivalent to two million million times the power output of the Sun. This is about 100 times higher than the total power output of the Milky Way galaxy – it’s a real monster of an outflow,” team leader Nahum Arav (Virginia Tech, USA), said in a statement. “This is the first time that a quasar outflow has been measured to have the sort of very high energies that are predicted by theory.”

This outflow is found to be present about one thousand light years away from the supermassive black hole at the center of the quasar SDSS J1106+1939. Considering its potency record, it is about five times more powerful than the previous record holder. According to the analysis by the team, nearly 400 times mass that of Sun is moving out of the quasar per year with the speed of 8000 km/sec.

“We couldn’t have got the high-quality data to make this discovery without the VLT’s X-shooter spectrograph,” Benoit Borguet (Virginia Tech, USA), lead author of the new paper, said. “We were able to explore the region around the quasar in great detail for the first time.”

“I’ve been looking for something like this for a decade,” Nahum Arav added, “so it’s thrilling to finally find one of the monster outflows that have been predicted!”


B. C. J. Borguet (Virginia Tech, USA), N. Arav (Virginia Tech, USA), D. Edmonds (Virginia Tech, USA), C. Chamberlain (Virginia Tech, USA), C. Benn (Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, Spain). (2012). Major contributor to AGN feedback: VLT X-shooter observations of SIV BAL QSO outflows. The Astrophysical Journal.

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