BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Scientists were recently surprised by the discovery of a supermassive black hole in a medium-sized galaxy. The humongous hole is believed to have seventeen billion times our Sun’s mass, being only a little smaller than the largest black hole known to man that weights about 21 billion masses of the Sun.
The newly-discovered black hole is located in the center of the NGC 1600 galaxy, which is about two hundred million light-years away from our planet in the Eridanus constellation. The peculiarity of the situation lies in the fact that this very large black hole is housed by an average-sized galaxy. Since supermassive black holes are usually found in denser clusters of galaxies, scientists might need to rethink the theories about the mysterious phenomenon that swallow celestial objects.
According to co-author of the study Chung-Pei Ma, there might exist other NGC 1600s at ordinary sites which were previously overlooked. Ma is also the MASSIVE Survey chief, which is a multi-telescope project meant to identify and classify the greatest and closest black holes and galaxies.
NGC 1600 was first found by the McDonald Observatory from Texas. While the first observation did not provide a lot of details, the team of scientists immediately knew they had something unique on their hands. Ma has stated that
“It was a little bit like looking at a hurricane from very far away. We couldn’t quite tell how big this hurricane was, this black hole was, but the hurricane was so big that we already started to feel the wind using this coarser data.”
After deciding that they had indeed discovered an immense black hole, the team took a look at the elliptical galaxy by using the Hubble Space Telescope of NASA and the northern part of the Gemini Observatory. The twin telescopes located in Chile and Hawaii permitted them to test the sphere of influence of NGC 1600. In this way, they found that only a seventeen billion solar mass supermassive black hole could move the stars at such a high speed.
Smaller galaxies are more numerous than extremely dense ones where most black holes have been discovered. The finding of NGC 1600 could be only the tip of the iceberg, and the MASSIVE project is set to reveal more details about black holes and their locations.
The study was published in the Nature journal today on April 6.
Image Source: Diply