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The black hole that fuels the birth of stars amazes scientists

(CNN) – Black holes are notorious for shredding stars, devouring light, and acting as massive garbage dumps in space. In an evolution, astronomers use a space telescope Hubble They discovered that these energetic orbs also had a nurturing aspect.

Hubble’s observation of a dwarf starburst galaxy, called Henize 2-10, revealed a gaseous umbilical cord extending from a black hole in the galactic center to a stellar nursery where stars are born.

A dwarf starburst galaxy is a small galaxy with an intense amount of star formation.

A stellar birth requires a dense cloud of gas and dust. The outflow of gas provided by the black hole set off a star-birth fireworks display as it interacted with the cloud, forming a cluster of stars.

The galaxy is located 30 million light-years away in the constellation Pyxis. While large galaxies are known to have a supermassive black hole at their center, galaxies like Henize 2-10 have had astronomers debate whether the same is possible in smaller cosmic environments.

Compared to the massive Milky Way and its billions of stars, Henize 2-10 has about a tenth as many stars.

“I knew from the start that something unusual and special was happening at Henize 2-10, and now Hubble has provided a very clear picture of the relationship between the black hole and the neighboring star-forming region located 230 light-years away from the black hole.” said study author Amy Raines, Professor Assistant in the physics department at Montana State University, in a statement.

The results were published Wednesday in the journal Nature. As a graduate student, Ren also co-authored a 2011 study that revealed the first guide A black hole in the galaxy.

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The black hole’s gas output was moving about a million miles per hour when it hit a dense cloud of gas and then spread out. New star clusters can be seen blooming along its path.

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows the Haines 2-10 dwarf galaxy, dotted with young stars. The bright center, surrounded by pink clouds, indicates the location of the black hole and the regions of star birth.

It’s a rare case of a black hole that helps stars form rather than tear them apart. In large galaxies, black holes release jets of extremely hot material that reach nearly the speed of light. Any unlucky gas cloud that gets in the way of these jets will become too hot to cool enough to form stars.

The smaller black hole within the Haines 2-10 dwarf galaxy is shedding material at a much slower and gentler rate, creating the right conditions for stars to be born.

Studying dwarf galaxies, or those that have remained small over time, could help astronomers discover how supermassive black holes appeared early in the history of the universe.