Black Holes Only Grow So Big

A few weeks ago there was a fairly cool paper on arXiv that suggested that supermassive black holes may only be able to grow so big. This triggered several Astronomy Cast listeners to write and basically say “Huh?” We addressed this a little bit in today’s questions show (real show to follow tomorrow or Wednesday – we had problems with a corrupt audio file over the weekend and got behind). I wasn’t able to give as thoughtful a response in the show as I might have liked however, so I’m going to try and write something here. So, first, I’d like to say there are two ways to look at this: 1) In reality, 2) in make-believe land. Make-believe land is oh so much more fun. So, lets imagine that somehow we are able to grow a very...

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Q: Who killed the Star Formation? A: The AGN did it.

One of the neat things about being a professional astronomer is sometimes knowing the authors of neat papers. Submitted to the arXiv on Friday was one such neat paper with an author list full of people I respect from their work and 1 collaborator. So let’s just say this is all neat and move on to the science. So here is the paper. On a quick read, this is just another paper on what happens to gas when and star formation when an AGN gets involved. If you’ve listened to many episodes of Astronomy Cast, you might have heard me explain this before. AGN (short for Active Galactic Nuclei) are actively feeding black holes in the centers of galaxies. These giant monsters are capable of calmly devouring vast quantities of gas and dust with accretion rates (the...

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When Galaxies interact, it’s Not all Fun and Games

When Galaxies interact, it’s Not all Fun and Games

qqqcol3icon2.jpgToday’s round of press conference started with the story of three systems that have mutually triggered fireworks in one another’s cores. Specifically, a gravitationally bound system of three quasars has been located at a distance of roughly 10.4 billion light years (z = 2.076). This is the first such triple quasar system that has been located.

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