Supermassive black holes (SMBHs) at the center of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) are known to emit ultra-fast outflows (UFOs), powerful space winds that move at nearly the speed of light. These winds play a crucial role in galactic evolution.
The SUBWAYS project, an international research effort, has been studying UFOs using the ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope. The first results, led by the University of Bologna and the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) in Italy, reveal the properties of UFOs in 22 luminous galaxies, providing new insights into the behaviour of SMBHs and their influence on star formation.
The SUBWAYS Project
The SUBWAYS project, a collaboration of astronomers and astrophysicists from various international institutions, aims to study quasars and their ultra-fast outflows. The team used the X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM) to analyze active galactic nuclei (AGN) for over 1.6 million seconds.
Understanding Ultra-Fast Outflows
Ultra-fast outflows are powerful space winds emitted by SMBHs. These winds, moving at nearly the speed of light, are believed to fuel the process of star formation in galaxies. The SUBWAYS team analyzed high-energy spectra emitted in the X-ray band by elements like iron to better understand these outflows.
Implications for Galactic Evolution
The study found that about 30 percent of the AGNs analyzed host UFOs traveling at speeds of 10 percent to 30 percent of the speed of light. These findings confirm that the intensity of these gas flows is sufficient to significantly alter the ecosystem of their galaxies, influencing their formation and evolution.
The findings of the SUBWAYS project open up new avenues for research into the behavior of SMBHs and their influence on galactic evolution. Future studies could focus on further characterizing UFOs and understanding the mechanisms that drive their emission from SMBHs.