Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 13:35 EDT

Latest David Merritt Stories

2010-07-11 08:25:00

Galaxies like our own were built billions of years ago from a deluge of giant clouds of gas, some of which continue to rain down. Now new calculations tie the rain of giant clouds of gas to active galactic nuclei (AGN), the extremely bright centers of some galaxies. If a gas cloud with millions of times more mass than our Sun wanders too close to the center of a galaxy, it can either be consumed by the supermassive black hole that lurks there or, through shocks and collapse, give birth to new...

2010-05-25 14:01:50

Previous galaxy merger is likely cause A team of astronomy researchers at Florida Institute of Technology and Rochester Institute of Technology in the United States and University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, find that the supermassive black hole (SMBH) at the center of the most massive local galaxy (M87) is not where it was expected. Their research, conducted using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), concludes that the SMBH in M87 is displaced from the galaxy center. The most likely cause...

2009-07-09 15:40:00

The tight cluster of stars surrounding a supermassive black hole after it has been violently kicked out of a galaxy represents a new kind of astronomical object and a fossil record of the kick. A paper published in the July 10 issue of The Astrophysical Journal discusses the theoretical properties of "hypercompact stellar systems" and suggests that hundreds of these faint star clusters might be detected at optical wavelengths in our immediate cosmic environment. Some of these objects may...