Supermassive black holes can have major impacts on the evolution of a galaxy. Especially when they are spewing powerful winds.

When a black hole consumes the material of its galaxy it means the galaxy has an Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN). During this phase, the black hole grows in mass and spews powerful winds.

To study these winds in quasars, astronomers used the EMIR infrared spectrograph on the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC). It was developed at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) to study the coolest and most distant objects in the universe by analyzing infrared light.

IAC researcher Cristina Ramos Almeida said the EMIR allowed the research team to use the infrared range to study the winds of ionized and molecular gas from the quasar J1509+0434.

“This analysis is very important because they don’t always show similar properties, which tells us a great deal about how these winds are produced and how they affect their host galaxies,” explains Ramos Almeida.

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The researchers found that ionized wind is faster than the molecular wind, reaching velocities of up to 1,200 km/s. But the molecular wind is emptying the gas reservoirs of the galaxy up to 176 solar masses per year. Thus, probably disrupting star formation.

“New observations with ALMA will let us confirm this estimate,” explained José Acosta Pulido, a researcher at the IAC and co-author of this study.

The next step is to observe a complete sample of obscured nearby quasars with EMIR. Therefore, studying their ionized and molecular winds. This will allow scientists to directly confirm the effect of AGN feedback on the evolution of the galaxies.

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