‘Galactic Blowout’ Captured For The First Time

Galactic Blowout SDSS J0905+57 (Credit: University of Hertfordshire)

The University of Hertfordshire have captured for the first time a galaxy in the process of ‘galactic blowout’. This new discovery should help provide astrophysicists with never-before-seen insights into how some galaxies coalesce, organize and evolve.

Galactic blowout is a mechanism where intense star formation at the centre of a galaxy pushes out cold dense gas at extremely high velocities. This can affect evolutionary processes in two entirely different ways depending on the physical situation: If galaxies collide (Arp 724) ‘blowout’ can generate further stellar formation as material is recycled and transfered across to the new host or, as in this particular case, for stand alone galaxies, development can be extinguished due to the ejection of gas and other potential star forming material. It has been calculated that SDSS J0905+57’s outflow contains enough hydrogen to create over one billion stars— this critical haemorrhaging of stellar fuel will greatly reduce its life expectancy with cooler, less dynamic, red stars dominating within 10 to 100 million years.

Using the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM) Plateau de Bure Interferometer, this latest image is the first time ‘galactic blowout’ has been witnessed, as Hertfordshire University state: ‘Outflows of warm, ionized gas from galaxies are well known, but the team’s observation of large amounts of cold, dense gas being violently removed from the central regions of the galaxy and far into space is a new discovery’. The team calculate that due to intense radiation pressure, outflow speed of the ejection plume is approximately ‘two million miles per hour’. This extreme activity has helped to produce a structure roughly ‘tens of thousands of light years’ in length.

As Dr Geach, chief researcher, concludes: ‘We are witnessing the aggressive termination of star formation, and the mechanism by which this is happening is an important new clue in our understanding of the evolution of galaxies.’

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Paul Hattle

As a strong advocate for science and learning, I am a passionate supporter of the 'Campaign for Science and Engineering' (CaSE) Fellow of the 'Royal Astronomical Society' (RAS) Associate Member of the 'Institute of Physics' (IOP) & 'The Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators' (ISTC)

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