Podcaster: Richard Drumm

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Title: UNAWE Space Scoop – AI Reveals Black Holes and Galaxies Grow up Together

Organization: 365 Days Of Astronomy

Link : ;

Description: Space scoop, news for children. 

Astronomers recently found that the growth of a galaxy and the growth of the supermassive black hole at its centre have a lot in common.

Bio: Richard Drumm is President of the Charlottesville Astronomical Society and President of 3D – Drumm Digital Design, a video production company with clients such as Kodak, Xerox and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. He was an observer with the UVa Parallax Program at McCormick Observatory in 1981 & 1982. He has found that his greatest passion in life is public outreach astronomy and he pursues it at every opportunity.

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This is the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast. Today we bring you a new episode in our Space Scoop series. This show is produced in collaboration with Universe Awareness, a program that strives to inspire every child with our wonderful cosmos.

Today’s story is…

AI Reveals Black Holes and Galaxies Grow Up Together

Astronomers recently found that the growth of a galaxy and the growth of the supermassive black hole, or SMBH, at its center have a lot in common. 

By training a computer to study and model the data, the astronomers were able to confirm this decades-old theory.

They’ve always been curious about how black holes form and grow. 

Most of the galaxies in the Universe, galaxies like our Milky Way, have an SMBH at their center. 

These black holes are so massive that they can grow up to be millions or even billions of times as massive as our Sun!

To understand how black holes grow, a team led by astronomers of the NAOJ, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the University of Arizona developed a computer program called Trinity. 

The program studied the existing astronomy data and suggested different ways or ‘rules’ to predict how, in the early Universe, SMBHs grew over time.

The team then created a virtual universe in Trinity and used the same rules to model the growth of billions of black holes in it.

By modeling how black holes grow in a virtual universe, the astronomers could test whether the same rules apply to observations of black holes in the real Universe. 

After trying a million sets of rules, the computer chose the ones that best agreed with real-life observations.

Brute force computing combined with simple trial & error!

Cool, huh?

The researchers found that SMBHs grew extremely fast when the Universe was only a few billion years old, and then their growth slowed down. 

Kinda similar to the way kids grow, with an early growth spurt, followed by slower growth.

The results go hand-in-hand with what we know about the evolution of galaxies.

You see, galaxies also grow up forming stars at a high rate in the early years and then slow down until they eventually stop growing.

With these results, astronomers can now study how black holes and their host galaxies grow at the same rate, and what maintains the balance between the galaxy and the SMBH at its center.

Hey, here’s a cool fact!

Black holes are much smaller than the galaxies in which they exist. 

If the Milky Way was the size of our Earth, its SMBH would be the size of the period at the end of a sentence.

Just a speck!

365 Days of Astronomy

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After 10 years, the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast is entering its second decade of sharing important milestone in space exploration and astronomy discoveries. Join us and share your story. Until tomorrow! Goodbye!