Three astronomers from the Netherlands have proven that gas that was previously heated near a supermassive black hole and flowed to the outskirts of the galaxy and cooled down, is moving back towards the black hole. While there had been indirect evidence for this theory, this is the first time that the cooled gas moving toward the black hole has actually been observed.
The researchers made their discovery when they used new techniques to examine archived data from the ALMA observatory. They share their findings in Nature Astronomy (Oosterloo, T., Morganti, R. & Murthy, S. Closing the feedback-feeding loop of the radio galaxy 3C 84. Nat Astron (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-023-02138-y).
Image: © Luca Oosterloo (whoislvca.com); Artist’s impression of filaments of gas flowing toward the accretion disk of 3C 84.