Midsized black hole may be hiding out in the Milky Way

A church silhouetted below a belt of the Milky Way
Credit
EPA  PETER KOMKA
A church silhouetted below a belt of the Milky Way Credit EPA PETER KOMKA
Author

07 September, 2017

What is obscure is the manner by which these supermassive black holes frame. The cloud had what the team called "extremely broad velocity width", meaning it was moving very fast with varying velocities they could not explain. The origins of such "supermassive" black holes (SMBHs) remain unknown, although those of stellar-mass black holes are well understood.

A black hole 100,000 times more massive than the sun right in the center of the Milky Way has been discovered by scientists. Immensely strong radio waves were detected at the center of the cloud, further supporting the hypothesis that it contains a black hole. "Knowing that nature has a way to make black holes with a mass of a hundred thousand solar masses really fills in a gap and may hold important clues to the formation of all massive black holes".

That accolade is reserved for Sagittarius A, which is anchored at the very centre of the galaxy and has a mass of 400 million suns.

"This is the second-largest black hole candidate in the Milky Way galaxy", lead researcher Tomoharu Oka noted in a Nature Astronomy report that was published on Monday.

They discovered that the movement of the gases, which include carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, was caused by vast gravitational forces.

What are Intermediate Mass Black Holes?

The existence of a new Milky Way black hole was first hinted at past year by the researchers in a separate study.

If their discovery can be confirmed, it would be the first ever evidence of an IMBH, which have always been viewed as the "missing link" in the evolution of these massive objects.

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They also found the emission from this cloud closely resembles a scaled-down version of the Milky Way's quiescent supermassive black hole.

Black holes are hard to see because they don't emit their own light. This demonstrated that there had to be something extraordinarily heavy in a very small region of space, strengthening the case that the object was an enormous black hole.

"It is widely accepted that black holes with masses greater than a million solar masses lurk at the centers of massive galaxies", the authors of the new study wrote.

Small black holes come into being when specific types of stars go nova at the end of their lifespan.

The observations were made by astronomers in Japan, who used the 45-metre Nobeyama radio telescope in Chile to investigate unusual activity within a cloud of gas in the interior of the Milky Way.

According to theories, the Milky Way should be home to about 100 million smaller black holes, but only 60 have been found. After performing simulations of the gas movements in the cloud, they were able to estimate something as large as the masses of 100,000 suns was inside it. If it were, in fact, a black hole, it would provide the first confirmation of the existence of intermediate-mass black holes. While intermediate-mass black holes play a key role in many cosmological models, we have yet to confirm any actually exist. As a result, the IMBH could have formed outside the Milky Way and was then incorporated into our galaxy along with its parent dwarf galaxy. Scientists will continue their research in the hopes of further detecting these high-velocity compact masses.

They conclude their paper by saying that such a discovery would make a considerable contribution to the progress of modern physics.


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