SJSU Astronomer Adds To Understanding of Star Formation and Black Holes

San Jose State University’s Aaron Romanowsky, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, revealed new research findings in a Jan. 1 article published in Nature. Romanowsky and his coworkers discovered that while bright new stars are formed at a rapid rate in new galaxies how quickly that rate slows is determined by the mass of the black hole at the center of the galaxy.

The idea that the mass of black holes affects the rate at which stars are formed throughout the lifespan of a galaxy has been around for decades, but the team with which Romanowsky worked discovered the first observational evidence that this is the case. The precise nature of the feedback from the black hole that quenches star formation remains uncertain, according to coauthor Romanowsky, who is also an astronomer at UC Observatories.

“There are different ways a black hole can put energy out into the galaxy, and theorists have all kinds of ideas about how quenching happens, but there’s more work to be done to fit these new observations into the models,” Romanowsky said.

Read more about the findings.