Supermassive black hole discovered near heart of the Milky Way

Supermassive black hole discovered near heart of the Milky Way

Supermassive black hole discovered near heart of the Milky Way

It's a "mini-me" version of its neighbouring supermassive "cousin" - shedding light on how it formed.

What are Intermediate Mass Black Holes?

These were believed to exist but none had ever actually been identified - until now.

The existence of the new black hole was hinted at past year, when a team from Keio University in Japan discovered the gas cloud, located just 200 light-years away from the centre of the Milky Way. Uncovering their secrets is the "Holy Grail" of astronomy.

A powerful telescope in the Chilean desert helped discover the new black hole.

If it is indeed a black hole, it would be the second largest in the Milky Way, following Sagittarius A. "Thus we are increasing the number of them by the new technique".

This is despite them appearing to have been in place when the universe was comparatively young - only a few hundred million years old.

This NASA image shows the black hole Sagittarius A in the heart of the Milky Way
Astronomers catch black hole shrouded in molecular cloud

Astronomers have long found evidence for small, star-sized black holes-up to about 10 times the sun's mass-and supermassive ones, containing millions or billions of solar masses, in galactic cores.

A black hole is that space which has high level of gravitational force such that it absorbs all light that passes through it in the midst. "We think some of those black holes are the seeds from which the much larger supermassive black holes grow to at least a million times more massive". The finding was also supported by further simulations of the gas movements.

The researchers will continue to study the gas cloud and its radio wave emissions with a view to confirming once and for all whether CO-0.40-0.22* is the intermediate-mass black hole it's suspected of being.

"We know that smaller black holes form when some stars die, which makes them fairly common", she said.

But such black holes had not previously been reliably detected and their existence has been fiercely debated among the astronomical community. A working theory as to where the black hole came from is that it used to be the nucleus of a dwarf galaxy that was then cannibalized by the Milky Way, said the journal article.

Astronomers have found the best evidence yet for the existence of a midsized black hole-long-rumored objects bigger than the small black holes formed from a single star, yet far smaller than the the giant ones lurking at the centers of galaxies-and it's hiding out in our own Milky Way. The properties exhibited by the molecular cloud are being associated to gravitational kicks that are caused by invisible compact objects that usually weigh about 105, 000 solar masses.

Prof Oka said it suggests 'this massive object is an inactive IMBH which is not now accreting matter'. The detection of a potential black hole weighing as much as 100,000 suns is precisely the middle step in the process that astronomers have sought.

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