Scientists recently discovered the smallest black hole known to date. Astronomers have discovered the supermassive black hole in the center of a dwarf galaxy located at around 340 million light years away. The smallest black hole, in the center of the RGG 118 galaxy weighs around 50,000 times more than the mass of our Sun. But despite this fact, the black hole has only half of the mass of the next-smallest one known.
The recently discovered black hole is about 100 times less massive than the one located in the center of our galaxy. It is also about 200,000 times less massive than the largest supermassive black hole discovered.
The new discovery is very important for astronomers as they can now better understand the evolution process of supermassive black holes, which are known to exist in most galaxies in the Universe.
Vivienne Baldassare of the University of Michigan and lead author of the recent study said that even if it may sound contradictory, finding a big black hole this small is very important. She added that scientists could make use of the observations of the black hole in order to understand a little better exactly how they increase in mass and size.
Sloan Digital Sky Survey was the one who discovered the dwarf galaxy RGG 118. The team of astronomers used the Chandra X-ray Observatory at NASA and the 6.5-metre Clay Telescope from Chile in order to view the black hole.
The astronomers were capable of analyzing the cool gas movement in the center of the galaxy with optical light, by using the Clay Telescope and analyzed the x-ray emissions from the whirling, hot gas near the black hole with the help of the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
The information gathered proved that the smallest black hole acts similarly to others in the middle of other galaxies. Also supporting this discovery were the speeds of stars surrounding the black hole in the middle of the dwarf galaxy.
One of the largest secrets in astrophysics is the existence of huge black holes that have been around in the Universe a billion years after when the Big Bang happened. The astronomers wish that with the help of the recent discovery of the smallest supermassive black hole that they could be able to refine the computer models of these enormous mysteries.
The recent study about the discovery of the smallest supermassive black hole has been published online at arXiv.org.
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