Monstrous Black Holes Are Outgrowing The Galaxies They Inhabit

Talk about a black heart.

NASA/CXC/A. Jubett

At the center of almost every currently known massive galaxy lies a supermassive black hole. These dark galactic hearts are ever-expanding, gobbling up any dust and gas that wanders too close.

These celestial phenomena are so hungry for matter that they are actually outgrowing the star formations that surround them. The image below is evidence of a blackhole swallowing immense amounts of hot gas from the galaxy surrounding it, a process that was then illustrated by an artist’s rendition.

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This graphic includes a section of the Chandra Deep Field-South — a patch of sky in the Fornax constellation — captured by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory spacecraft. It was color enhanced with other images from the Hubble Space Telescope and supports the findings of two new studies, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), that suggest black holes are outpacing their galaxies growth.

The growth of the biggest black holes in the Universe is outrunning the rate of formation of stars in the galaxies they inhabit, according to two studies using data from Chandra and other telescopes.

NASA/CXC/Penn. State/G. Yang et al & NASA/CXC/ICE/M. Mezcua et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI;

Two teams of researchers at Pennsylvania State University and the Institute of Space Sciences in Spain analyzed a sample of distant black holes and found evidence that rebutted the notion galaxies and their black holes grow in tandem.

The team at Penn State found the more massive the galaxy, the faster the black hole at its center grows. For galaxies containing 100 billion solar masses — or 100 billion times the mass of the sun — the black hole’s growth rate is ten times that of the galaxy as a whole.

The Institute of Space Science team studied 72 galaxies and found that their black hole masses were roughly ten times larger than previous estimations.

So if you thought you had a black heart for ghosting someone on Valentine’s Day, just look up and remember where the real hearts of darkness live.