Scientists May Have Found Another Black Hole in the Milky Way

by Fredrick Graves September 7, 2017, 1:28
Scientists May Have Found Another Black Hole in the Milky Way

Astronomers may have found a massive black hole lying near the center of the Milky Way hidden by a cloud of molecular gas.

Large black holes - known as intermediate-mass black holes, or IMBHs - are believed to form after smaller black holes merge together to form bigger ones, which in turn move together to become supermassive ones. The researchers wanted to understand the peculiar movements of the cloud's gases.

The team originally spotted the gas cloud using the Nobeyama radio telescope in Japan-but to learn more about what they had found required something bigger, so they ventured to Chile, where they gained access to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. They noticed that the molecules in the elliptical cloud, built up of toxic gases including hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide, were being twisted and pulled by colossal gravitational forces.

The team also ran a series of computer models to account for these unusual behaviors, which indicated that the most likely cause was a black hole. Once a black hole formed, it continues to expand by fascinating accumulation from its surroundings.

But such black holes had not previously been reliably detected and their existence has been fiercely debated among the astronomical community. That's a little like a city that's home to only children and the elderly, with no one in between.

Black holes are formed when the centres of giant stars collapse in upon themselves. Given its mass - 100,000 Solar Masses, or roughly 500 times smaller than that of Sagittarius A* - this meant that the black hole was intermediate in size.

Oka, whose research is published in the journal Nature Astronomy, said the newly-found black hole could be the core of an old dwarf galaxy that was cannibalised during the formation of the Milky Way billions of years ago.

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Black holes are the stuff of dreams for science fiction writers everywhere and a source of fascination for scientists and ordinary people alike. The black hole appears to be mid-sized and not almost as big as the giant ones present at the centers of galaxies.

Black holes are hard to spot because they don't emit any light of their own. Eventually, Oka explained to The Guardian, the object will sink toward Sagittarius A*, closer and closer, until it's swallowed up, increasing the mass of Sagittarius A* as it joins it at the heart of our galaxy.

Over time, astronomers have discovered evidence for star-sized black holes whose masses are about ten times the mass of our Sun. According to Science Mag, the mid-sized black hole could be lurking in the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy.

One of the prominent theories about how supermassive black holes form is through IMBHs merging at the center of galaxies, acting as seeds to create their larger counterparts. And for good reason - they're are mysterious, powerful things that can really make our place in the universe feel, well, very insignificant. A odd molecular cloud was detected in the center of the Milky Way.

The study said, "It is widely accepted that black holes with masses greater than a million solar masses lurk at the centers of massive galaxies". Significant data have also been gathered for #Supermassive Black Holes which hold millions to billions of masses in their galactic cores.

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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