A quartet of mysterious cavities in the center of a cluster of galaxies

Galaxy clusters consist of a few hundred to several hundred thousand galaxies associated with gravity and are the largest astrophysical objects found in the universe. It is in the heart of one of them, RBS 797 galaxy cluster located 3.9 billion light-years from Earth, that four giant cavities have recently been discovered: areas mysteriously devoid of matter located about 45,000 light-years from the center of the cluster. .

Excavated thanks to NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, they are the subject of a study published December 20, 2021 in the journal The Astrophysical Journal. The origin of these cavities remains a mystery to the authors of this research: only two scenarios could explain such vacuum zones, which both involve eruptions of black holes and are currently impossible to determine. This is at least the first time that such a phenomenon has been observed.

At the origin of this phenomenon, the eruption of black holes

How can such an amount of substance be “blown away”? The answer lies at the heart of these astrophysical objects that are supermassive black holes. They are located at the center of large galaxies, even at the center of the largest structures in the universe, galaxy clusters.

These black holes emit rays of matter and plasma along their magnetic axis so powerful that they then push all the nearby substance back and then create vacuum zones: this is called the eruption of black holes. Like a volcano, these eruptions are irregular, interrupted by quiet periods. This is exactly what we observe with the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A * at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

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