Astronomers have shed light on the mystery surrounding the magnetically powered jets produced by the supermassive black holes in the center of the galaxies. The team held a simulation to understand the process better.

The simulation explained why the powered jets have different reactions. Some burst forth as bright beacons visible across the universe and others fall apart and never pierce the halo of the galaxy, as reported by Phys.Org.

About ten percent of all galaxies with active nuclei, presumed to have supermassive black holes in their centers, have jets of gas going in opposite directions from the core. This ionized gas was found to be propelled by the twisting magnetic fields of the rotating black hole, which can be as massive as several billion suns.

Astronomers explain mystery of magnetically powered jets produced by supermassive black holes. Image Credit: Phys
Astronomers explain the mystery of magnetically powered jets produced by supermassive black holes. Image Credit: Phys

“Whereas it was rather easy to reproduce the stable jets in simulations, it turned out to be an extreme challenge to explain what causes the jets to fall apart,” said lead author Alexander Tchekhovskoy from the University of California and a NASA Einstein Postdoctoral Fellow.

“To explain why some jets are unstable, researchers had to resort to explanations such as red giant stars in the jets’ path loading the jets with too much gas and making them heavy and unstable so that the jets fall apart,” he added.

According to Dr. Tchekhovskoy, their research showed that a jet can fall apart without any external perturbation, and this could be just to the physics of the plane. He exemplified that if he were to jump on top of a jet and fly with it, he would see that the aircraft starts to wiggle around because of a kink instability in the magnetic field.

If that wiggling grows faster than it takes the gas to reach the tip, then the jet will fall apart, Dr. Tchekhovskoy commented. But if the instability grows slower than it takes for gas to go from the base to the tip of the jet, then this will stay stable, he added.

The simulation, which agrees well with observations, explained what it is known in the scientific community as the Fanaroff-Riley morphological dichotomy of jets, first pointed out in 1974 by Bernie Fanaroff of South Africa and Julia Riley of the U.K.

The team is now improving the simulation capability to incorporate the smaller effects of gravity, buoyancy and the thermal pressure of the interstellar and intergalactic media, as reported by the Daily Mail.

An advance in black holes understanding

The finding could advance research related to how galaxies and their central black holes evolve from the process within the phenomenon since aborted jets are believed to roil the galaxy and slow star formation while at the same time slowing the infall of gas that has been feeding the supermassive black hole.

Also, the model could as well help astronomers to reach a better understanding of the types of jets, such as the ones produced by individual stars, according to the study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Source: Phys