A ‘HUNGRY’ supermassive black hole was discovered using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory earlier this week, researchers said.
The discovery of the black hole was announced during the 239th virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Monday.
Researchers discovered a tiny new ‘supermassive’ black hole
Astronomers were observing eight dwarf galaxies when the optical data suggested that one of them might be hosting a feeding supermassive black hole.
The data then pinpointed galaxy Mrk 462, which is 110 million light-years from Earth and fairly devoid of stars, as the home of the black hole.
And while the black hole is classified as ‘supermassive,’ it is one of the smallest astronomers have observed, having a mass of only 200,000 times that of our own Sun.
“This black hole in Mrk 462 is among the smallest of the supermassive, or monster, black holes… [They] are notoriously hard to find,” said astronomer Jack Parker of Dartmouth College.
One of the reasons black holes of this size are incredibly hard to find is because dwarf galaxies are usually too small and dim from the lack of stars for observation from Earth.
However, by using the Chandra X-ray Observatory instrument astronomers were able to detect the extremely bright, high-energy radiation emitted by the supermassive black hole.
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What made the astronomer’s observations even more of a rare find is that the black hole was obscured by a thick cloud of dust.
“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,” co-lead researcher Ryan Hickox said in a NASA statement.
This new data suggest that perhaps some black holes are not formed already-large, but grow from stellar-mass seeds less than 100 times the mass of the Sun as they feed on gas and dust.
“We can’t make strong conclusions from one example, but this result should encourage much more extensive searches for buried black holes in dwarf galaxies,” Parker said.
“We’re excited about what we might learn,” he added.
AlamyResearchers discovered the black hole using a NASA X-Ray instrument[/caption]
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