Supernovae-generated high-velocity compact clouds

A. Yalinewich, P. Beniamini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context. A previous study claimed the discovery of an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH). This hypothetical black hole was invoked in order to explain the high-velocity dispersion in one of several dense molecular clouds near the Galactic center. The same study considered the possibility that this cloud was due to a supernova explosion, but disqualified this scenario because no X-rays were detected. Aims. We here check whether a supernova explosion could have produced that cloud, and whether this explanation is more likely than an IMBH. More specifically, we wish to determine whether a supernova inside a dense molecular cloud would emit in the X-rays. Methods. We have approached this problem from two different directions. First, we performed an analytic calculation to determine the cooling rate by thermal bremsstrahlung and compared this time to the lifetime of the cloud. Second, we estimated the creation rate of these dense clouds in the central molecular zone (CMZ) region near the Galactic center, where they were observed. Based on this rate, we can place lower bounds on the total mass of IMBHs and clouds and compare this to the masses of the components of the CMZ. Results. We find that the cooling time of the supernova remnant inside a molecular cloud is shorter than its dynamical time. This means that the temperature in such a remnant would be much lower than that of a typical supernova remnant. At such a low temperature, the remnant is not expected to emit in the X-rays. We also find that to explain the rate at which such dense clouds are created requires fine-tuning the number of IMBHs. Conclusions. We find the supernova model to be a more likely explanation for the formation of high-velocity compact clouds than an IMBH.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL9
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© ESO 2018.


  • ISM: clouds
  • ISM: supernova remnants
  • Stars: black holes
  • Supernovae: general


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