Black holes are one of the most frightening and destructive forces in the Universe, but some scientists suggest that the emission from these objects that they create in the course of absorption of the material surrounding it may contribute to the emergence of biomolecular building blocks of life and even stimulate photosynthesis. In General terms, that may mean that in our galaxy may be much more worlds capable of supporting life than assuming our current hypothesis.
For their new study, which was recently published in the Astrophysical journal, astrophysicists have created computer models to examine in greater detail the specifics of the radiation disk of gas and dust, called active galactic nuclei (AGNs) that rotate around supermassive black holes. Being one of the brightest objects in the Universe, they are the result of the curvature of matter by the gravity of a black hole. This process is accompanied by release of large amounts of energy.
Since the early 80-ies among the scholars went to the opinion that the emission from these objects creates the dead zone around active galactic nuclei. Some researchers have even suggested that AGNs are the reason why we still have not found complex forms of extraterrestrial life, in particular, towards the center of our galaxy. In the center of the milky Way is a huge black gifts Sagittarius a*. According to the findings of previous studies, any earth-like planet, which will be in a radius of 3200 light years from the center of the active nucleus of the galaxy, under the influence of powerful x-ray and ultraviolet radiation of AGNs will not be able to retain its atmosphere.
“People often speak only of the destructive effects of black holes. We also wanted as part of his research on new ways to look at these effects, particularly radiation of black holes, and try to find some positive sides”, — said the head of the study, astronomer of Harvard University Manasvi Lingam.
Possible life near black holes?
Researchers created computer models have shown that planets with atmosphere and a density comparable to earth and above, and located far enough from the AGNs will be able to maintain their atmosphere and, moreover, will be capable of supporting life on its surface. Scientists explain that at a certain distance from the center of AGNs, the latter, like stars, there are so-called “habitable zones” where the amount of ultraviolet radiation is not so high to destroy all life that may be there.
At such radiation levels, scientists say, of the atmosphere of planets will not be destroyed. At the same time, this radiation is able to cleave molecules, creating compounds necessary for obtaining structural elements of proteins, lipids and DNA required for at least the life that we know. For black holes the size with the same Sagittarius a*, which is located in the center of our galaxy, the “habitable zone” will start in about 140 light years from the center of the black hole (1 light year = 150 million kilometers), researchers say. The negative effects of its radiation will be significantly reduced within 100 light years from the center of AGNs.
Black holes and photosynthesis. What is common between them?
Scientists also considered the effects of this radiation on photosynthesis — the synthesis of organic substances from inorganic ones due to the energy of light with which plants produce oxygen, and some types of bacteria and algae also glucose. As noted above, AGNs is able to emit huge amounts of a key element for photosynthesis – the light. According to Manasvi, this aspect would be particularly important for so-called planets-orphans, objects with a mass comparable to planetary and spherical shape and are in fact planets, but not tied gravitationally to any star. According to scientists, in the “habitable zone” of galaxies the size of our milky Way may be around 1 billion such planets-the Wanderers.
Calculating the area in which AGNs are able to maintain photosynthesis, scientists have discovered that a huge number of galaxies, in particular those whose centers are supermassive black holes, will be able to support this kind of photosynthesis. For example, for a galaxy the size of ours, this area will take about 1100 light-years around its center. As for the smaller and more dense, so-called ultra-compact dwarf galaxies, more than half of their area is usable for photosynthesis, the researchers note.
With a fresh look on the x-ray and ultraviolet radiation, the researchers say, it becomes clear that in the past the negative effects of AGNs were greatly exaggerated. Scientists explain that many of the same types of earthly bacteria are able to create around himself a special biofilm, which protects them from ultraviolet radiation, so we should not exclude the possibility that life in regions of space with high radiation background could also adapt to such methods of survival.
In the new study, also stated that x-ray and gamma radiation, which is also active AGNs is emitted in large quantities, will be absorbed by the atmosphere earth-like exoplanets and, apparently, will not cause significant impact on life forms that can live.
As for the AGNs in our galaxy, according to researchers, the negative effects of his radiation will be significantly reduced already within 100 light years from the center of AGNs.
“If you look as an example to our Land, we can safely assume that the beneficial effects of radiation can surpass its negative effects. For us, this discovery also proved to be a real revelation,” says Lingam.
To discuss the news in our Telegram chat.