Radiation from black holes may create life

AGN Inner Structure
Inner structure of an active galaxy (Credits - Wikimedia Commons)

Black holes are seen as an engine of destruction on a cosmic scale but soon are also recently seen as the bringers of life. Recently, it was discovered that the black holes emit radiation during feeding frenzies and create molecular building blocks and can even power photosynthesis.

A new study published in Astrophysical Journal used computer models to look at the radiating disks of gas and dust called the active galactic nuclei (AGN) which swirl around the massive black holes. The AGN is formed when the black hole’s gravity binds matter together. A lot of light and radiation is created as the matter swirls around a black hole.

Earlier it was suspected that radiation would create a dead zone around the AGN and could explain why we haven’t seen any complex extraterrestrial life towards the Milky Way. Sagittarius A is 3200 light years away and is the black hole of our galaxy. People mostly talk about the detrimental effects of the black hole but astronomers at Harvard University wanted to reexamine the black hole to find out the positive effects of the black hole.

There stands a chance for hosting life in regions with the atmosphere thicker than those of Earth and those who are far away from the AGN to retain the atmosphere. There is a special zone called Goldilocks Zone which gets just the right amount of ultraviolet radiation. These radiations could break apart compounds, molecules creating necessary building blocks such as protein, lipids, and DNA.

The Goldilocks zone is around 140 light years away from the center of the black hole and 1 light year is equivalent to 5.8 million million miles. AGN emits a lot of light which can be used up by plants for photosynthesis. This light would be particularly important for free-floating planets that do not have a host star.

A large area in several galaxies might have AGN powered photosynthesis especially those galaxies which have supermassive black holes like our galaxy. For a galaxy similar to our own, the region would extend to 1100 light years from the galaxy centre. The negative effects due to ultraviolet and X-Ray, the adverse consequences were exaggerated and that bacteria on Earth have created bio films to protect itself from ultraviolet rays and areas with heavy UV radiation would have developed similar techniques for ultraviolet protection. X rays and gamma rays are readily absorbed by Earth like atmospheres and that the damaging effects of AGN would end around 100 light years from Sagittarius A.


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