A study conducted by astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Surveys might have found a new natural event that is similar to Earth’s global warming. Dr. Edmun Cheung is the leader of the research study, and they found a new kind of galaxies which they named “red geysers”. The first one of its kind was found using an advanced survey method called Mapping Nearby Galaxies at APO (MaNGA). Dr. Cheung nicknamed it “Akira” inspired in an anime movie that was based on a manga with the same name.
To understand the study, it is important to first establish some basic knowledge. Galaxies are pretty much gigantic gas clouds that start making stars when its temperature goes down, and gravity starts putting particles together. However, astronomers found out that most galaxies have not been working a lot. In fact, they have only been forming “a few” red stars for about 10 billion years.
Scientists were puzzled by this. They could not understand what was preventing gas clouds from forming celestial bodies. Enter Dr. Cheung and his team, the researchers decided to use the data provided by MaNGA which provides a lot of information in a really short period of time. The new survey system can give very detailed information on more than 10,000 galaxies in the nearby universe including every change they go through. Basically, a complete “biography” on their life-cycle.
Hot winds, red geysers
By studying the data, the research team found something very interesting. Nowadays, most astrophysics believe there is a massive black hole in the middle of every solar system including the Milky Way. But according to the research team, there are some galaxies that have black holes so big and powerful that they sometimes drag particles from neighbor star systems. When this happens, ionized winds are created, and they have enough mechanical force to elevate the temperatures of the galaxies involved. The co-author of the study, Kevin Bundy, named this kind of galaxies “red geysers” because these “hot winds” come and go in bursts, similar to Earth’s geysers.
If they are correct, this would explain why there are so many star systems that are not making stars anymore. Let’s remember that to make planets and similar bodies, the temperature needs to go down, or gravity will not be able to put particles together because the heat stimulates them, and makes them go in all directions. It’s like trying to group a lot of kids that ate a lot of chocolate, it’s impossible!
According to the paper, from all the galaxies that are no longer creating stars, at least 10% are red geysers, and that is a lot because in a little “piece of sky” there are thousands of millions of star systems.
The event is a similar but an incredibly exaggerated version of global warming.
“You can think of these winds as super-heating the atmospheres of galaxies,” Dr. Cheung said. “As soon as any gas starts to cool, it gets blasted by this wind, like water droplets turning to steam.”
The study was first presented on October 12, 2015, and it was published on-line in the journal Nature, the international weekly journal of science, today.