Supermassive Black Hole Found In Tiny Galaxy
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – There's a common misconception about "black holes", which has arisen out of simple origins: their names.
It's a misnomer, because while they act like a void towards which everything descends, it is in fact not a hole at all. In regions of space highly dense with matter, a black hole develops as an exponentially growing mass that pulls in all matter, even light, by the sheer force of its gravitational grip. But, if the black holes are primarily dependent on mass, how is it that a supermassive black hole could find its home in a tiny subset of space?
In a new study published in this week's issue of the journal Nature, researchers utilized the Gemini Telescope in Hawaii and images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to track the motions of set of stars within the ultra-compact dwarf galaxy M60-UCD1, which lies roughly 55 million light-years away from Earth in the Virgo cluster of space. While tracking the movement within the galaxy, the researchers found that in spite of its small size it is home to a supermassive black hole, 80 times bigger than they'd expect to see in a galaxy of its size.
"Data reveals the presence of a supermassive black hole with a mass of 21 million solar masses; 15% of the object's total mass" lead researcher and professor at the University of Utah, Anil C. Seth says. "The high black hole mass and mass fraction suggest that M60-UCD1 is the stripped nucleus of the galaxy."
While there has been long-standing speculation as to the existence of large black holes in these ultra-compact dwarf galaxies, which are densely packed spherical conglomerations of stars, this research is the first to verify that a supermassive black hole is the stripped nuclei at the center of the galaxy. With a percent galaxy mass 3000% larger than is often expected, with the typical supermassive black hole only accounting for about 0.5 percent of its host galaxy mass, the researchers are eager to see what other misconceptions might be proven incorrect as they can now better identify black holes by their abnormal x-ray emissions.
With the possibility of finding that local nearby dwarf galaxies may in fact be homes to many more supermassive black holes than previously suggested by other surveys, the researchers have continued their study in hopes of finding even more clarity as to the origins of these bizarre anomalies.
"This gives us a whole new home for black holes that we never knew existed before" University of Michigan astronomer, Amy Reines says.