Evidence found for mid-sized black hole near center of Milky Way
07 September, 2017, 01:29 | Author: Bridget Leonard
If so, that would seem to support the merger-based theory of supermassive black hole formation, but confirmation will require additional analysis.
CO-0.40-0.22 had a very large broadening, indicating its contents were moving rapidly.
The scientists said the black hole could have formed after a former core of a dwarf galaxy was absorbed by the Milky Way.
The new "black hole" discovered is the second largest in the Milky Way, and as Japanese astronomers have seen this mighty phenomenon, "a possible scenario is that intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) are formed by the clustering of stars in small compact stars, merge into the center of a galaxy to form an oversized black hole".
Astrophysicists have suspected an intermediate class of black hole might exist - with masses between a hundred and several hundred thousand times that of the Sun.
That accolade is reserved for Sagittarius A, which is anchored at the very centre of the galaxy and has a mass of 400 million suns.
Professor Tomoharu Oka of Japan's Keio University believes that black holes with masses greater than a million solar masses are at the centre of all galaxies and are essential to their growth. They noticed that the molecules in the elliptical cloud, built up of toxic gases including hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide, were being twisted and pulled by colossal gravitational forces.
If it is confirmed that the research has found what appears to be an IMBH, this means that a new research field will appear, a new field in which supermassive black holes can be studied and understood. The largest, supermassive black holes, lurk at the center of galaxies, while small black holes result from the collapse of huge stars. To add further evidence, the researchers built a simulation of the gas cloud and its characteristics, particularly the gas velocities, and found that it, too, pointed to a mid-sized black hole.
The finding published in Nature Astronomy provides important insights into how supermassive black holes like the one at the very centre of our galaxy were created.
Speaking to the Guardian, Brooke Simmons of the University of California in San Diego said small black holes occur when stars die, making them fairly common. This unusual movement perplexed the researchers, so they chose to point the powerful ALMA telescope in Chile's Atacam desert at the cloud.
Looming in the middle of every galaxy, supermassive black holes weigh as much as ten billion suns - fuelling the birth of stars and deforming the fabric of space-time itself.
The find could lead to the resolution of major mysteries regarding black holes by giving scientists a chance to examine how they form. But researchers are divided over whether these are really midsized black holes, shining bright as they imbibe lots of surrounding gas, or smaller ones ingesting at a superfast rate.
Besides, the theoretical studies predict that there may be 100 million to a billion numbers of the black holes exist in the Milky Way, from which only around 60 black holes have been detected officially. The speculated black hole is unique regarding size.
Researchers say they will continue to study the intermediate-mass black hole candidate in the hope of confirming its existence.
They conclude their paper by saying that such a discovery would make a considerable contribution to the progress of modern physics.
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