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Cosmos: UC physicist explores distant newborn stars

Physicist Matthew Bayliss found a cluster of stars spawned by a black hole

University of Cincinnati assistant professor Matthew Bayliss talked to Cosmos Magazine about his research into distant supermassive stars that burn hot and die young.

Finding these newborn stars is difficult because they are so comparatively short-lived. Bayliss examined a galaxy cluster in the Phoenix constellation that was generating many new stars from a central black hole.

Bayliss, a physicist in UC's McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, and his research partners used a technique called gravitational lensing to observe the distant stars with help from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. 

The study, led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology assistant professor Michael McDonald, was published in the The Astrophysical Journal

“In the past, outbursts from the undersized black hole may have simply been too weak to heat its surroundings, allowing hot gas to start cooling,” Bayliss told the magazine.

“But as the black hole has grown more massive and more powerful, its influence has been increasing.”

Bayliss was lead author for a related research project on distant stars that was published in Nature Astronomy.

That study marked the first use of gravitational lensing to observe distant stars through X-ray detection.

Featured image at top: An artist's rendering of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Illustration/TRW

Matthew Bayliss writes an equation with the superimposed image of stars from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope

UC physicist Matthew Bayliss is studying supermassive stars using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Photo Illustration/Lisa Ventre and Margaret Weiner/UC Creative Services and NASA