A supermassive black hole at the center of a neighbor galaxy apparently "burped" after swallowing up nearby matter, a phenomenon that may have been instrumental in shaping the early universe, new research shows.
Scientists using NASA's Chandra X-ray telescope found two streams of X-ray emissions near the heart of NGC 5195, a small galaxy located about 27 million light-years away. The galaxy is in the process of merging with another galaxy, NGC 5194, a large spiral also known as "The Whirlpool."
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A second set of observations from the Kitt Peak National Observatory's 0.9-meter optical telescope revealed a thin region of relatively cool hydrogen gas just beyond the outer arc of X-rays.
Scientists believe hot gas, which generated the X-ray emissions, plunged into the cooler regions, like a snowplow.
"This is the best example of snow-plowed material I've ever seen. This is clearly a way of ejecting gas from a galaxy," astronomer Eric Schlegel, with the University of Texas, San Antonio, said at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Kissimmee, Florida, on Tuesday.