Scientists Find ‘Mini’ Monster Black Hole Discovered Hiding In Galaxy

Joe Harker


Scientists Find 'Mini’ Monster Black Hole Discovered Hiding In GalaxyAlamy

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there was a mini black hole that was still actually very big.

Scientists have discovered a ‘mini’ black hole that was hiding in a small galaxy about 110 million light years away, though perhaps ‘mini’ is the wrong word considering this black hole has a mass approximately 200,000 times larger than our sun.

It’s one of the smallest ‘supermassive’ black holes we’ve seen, but as the name ‘supermassive’ suggests, it’s still pretty darn huge and they are occasionally referred to as ‘monster’ black holes.

This mini monster black hole was buried deep within a tiny galaxy called Mrk 462, which doesn’t sound like the best name but since there are approximately two trillion galaxies in the universe there isn’t the time to give them all a cool title.

Mrk 462 is one of the smaller galaxies, with only several hundred million stars compared to the hundred billion we have here in the Milky Way, which makes it hard to spot black holes, The Independent reports.

Jack Parker, a researcher at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire who co-led the study, said: ‘This black hole in Mrk 462 is among the smallest of the supermassive, or monster, black holes. Black holes like this are notoriously hard to find.’

Astronomers can spot black holes in larger galaxies by looking for the rapid motions of stars in the galaxy centre, that isn’t possible for dwarf galaxies such as Mrk 462 as they are too small and dim to be observed in such a way.

Experts instead have to spot the signs of a growing black hole, namely glowing x-rays and indications that gas is being heated up to millions of degrees.

Blackhole (Pixabay)Pixabay

We’ve spotted eight dwarf galaxies with hints of black hole growth, but only Mrk 462 had the glowing x-rays given off by gas that was being sucked into the black hole to tip off astronomers.

Researchers used NASA’s Chandra x-ray observatory to see that the mini monster black hole in Mrk 462 was mostly hidden beneath dust and gas.

‘Because buried black holes are even harder to detect than exposed ones, finding this example might mean there are a lot more dwarf galaxies out there with similar black holes,’ Ryan Hickox, who also conducted the study, said. ‘This is important because it could help address a major question in astrophysics: How did black holes get so big so early in the universe?’

Scientists hope further research of black holes will give us some idea of how they have managed to get so large.

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Topics: Science, Black Hole, galaxy, Now, Space


The Independent
  1. The Independent

    Scientists discover ‘mini’ black hole hiding in tiny galaxy

Joe Harker
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