Surprise! Monster Black Hole Found in Dwarf Galaxy

Sep 22, 2014

Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Coe, G. Bacon (STScI)

By Charles Q. Choi

Astronomers have just discovered the smallest known galaxy that harbors a huge, supermassive black hole at its core.

The relatively nearby dwarf galaxy may house a supermassive black hole at its heart equal in mass to about 21 million suns. The discovery suggests that supermassive black holes may be far more common than previously thought.

A supermassive black hole millions to billions of times the mass of the sun lies at the heart of nearly every large galaxy like the Milky Way. These monstrously huge black holes have existed since the infancy of the universe, some 800 million years or so after the Big Bang. Scientists are uncertain whether dwarf galaxies might also harbor supermassive black holes. [Watch a Space.com video about the new dwarf galaxy finding]

“Dwarf galaxies usually refer to any galaxy less than roughly one-fiftieth the brightness of the Milky Way,” said lead study author Anil Seth, an astronomer at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. These galaxies span only several hundreds to thousands of light-years across, much smaller than the Milky Way’s 100,000-light-year diameter, and they “are much more abundant than galaxies like the Milky Way,” Seth said.

 

Read more here.

27 comments on “Surprise! Monster Black Hole Found in Dwarf Galaxy

  • A supermassive black hole millions to billions of times the mass of the sun lies at the heart of nearly every large galaxy like the Milky Way.

    I don’t really find it surprising that they are at the centre of smaller galaxies.

    Black holes are at the centre of galaxies, just as stars provide the gravitational force holding solar-systems together.



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  • Astronomers have just discovered the smallest known galaxy that harbors a huge, supermassive black hole at its core.

    It’s always seemed like commonsense that a black hole or massive element will be at the centre of all of these rotating systems in space. As Alan says, the sun is at the centre of our solar system providing the gravitation focus about which the planets and all the other debris rotates.

    But to paraphrase a movie line, “That’s not a super-massive black hole, this is….”

    A study of the movements of 8,000 galaxies by the Hawaiian telescopes found an object they’ve called the Super Attractor. This is gravitationally strong enough to cause these galaxies and great distances to move towards it. Now that is a super massive black hole or whatever something this big should be called. This is a video from the journal Nature, represents the movement of these 8,000 galaxies. I find it awesome in the true sense of the work “Awe”.

    http://www.upworthy.com/scientists-mapped-8000-galaxies-surrounding-us-and-found-this-amazing-discovery



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  • David R Allen. I concur. Awesome!
    I tried to access the link provided by Mr DArcy as well, because it sounded like just my cup of tea. Unfortunately it couldn’t be viewed outside the UK.



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  • When I read stuff like this, my mind goes into free range thinking mode that I have little control over. If there is a physicist out there, or Alan4D, see if I’ve got this right.

    Every particle in the universe can “feel” every other particle in the universe, through gravity. So is passing of the gravitational force between particles instantaneous and thus not covered by the speed of light restriction? If the Laniakea super galactic cluster is rotating towards the Super Attractor, what’s to say that all the Laniakea size super clusters are all feeling each other and moving as a result of their mutual gravity with a greater centre focus. And take it further, what if the entire universe is all rotating around a point which is the universal “Centre of Gravity”. Is this the centre of the big bang.

    So many “Why” questions. So little life span.



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  • I was thinking along similar lines but in a simpler form. I always imagine gravity in two dimensions in the form of an elastic material stretched over a frame (sorry I have a victorian mechanical mind) onto which you drop marbles (the marbles being planets or galaxies in this case) that make a dent and anything that falls into that dent gets dragged into the centre. If you have many marbles/galaxies then the accumulative dent must have a centre into which they will all end up eventually if mass grows in a particular spot. No need for a super attractor.

    Sorry if I have dumbed it down too much!!



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  • David R Allen Sep 23, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    When I read stuff like this, my mind goes into free range thinking mode that I have little control over. If there is a physicist out there, or Alan4D, see if I’ve got this right.

    I’m not a physicist, but this link seems to cover the issues: –

    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Relativity/GR/grav_speed.html

    Olgun Sep 24, 2014 at 7:57 am

    If you have many marbles/galaxies then the accumulative dent must have a centre into which they will all end up eventually if mass grows in a particular spot. No need for a super attractor.

    I think the collective mass of a cloud of particles will provide a barycentre, around which they will orbit as they are attracted by gravity. As very large masses such as galaxies fall into the barycentre they will form a “super attractor” just as black-holes form at the centre of galaxies and pull surrounding matter into them and into orbits around them.

    Any relatively isolated system of matter will orbit is collective centre of gravity. http://www.orbitsimulator.com/gravity/articles/ssbarycenter.html



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  • I think the collective mass of a cloud of particles will provide a
    barycentre, around which they will orbit as they are attracted by
    gravity. As very large masses such as galaxies fall into the
    barycentre they will form a “super attractor” just as black-holes form
    at the centre of galaxies and pull surrounding matter into them and
    into orbits around them.

    That sort of fits into my mechanical brain except that a black hole is formed by matter in a single spot (collapsed star) and, in my mind, the super attractor is just a focus point for the gravitational centre of all the galaxies in the cluster. Kind of like focusing light through a lens. If that is what you mean by super attractor then I misunderstood it. I imagined it to be another new force???



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  • 15
    sangfroid says:

    I am not an astronomer or physicist by any stretch of the imagination. I just love learning new things in these fields. So, my question is this. Is it possible that this black hole has swallowed most of what may once have been a much larger, brighter galaxy and is in the waning billions of years of finishing its meal? Once completed will it disappear into the blackness only to be detected perhaps by its blocking the light from stars and galaxies behind it?



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  • @sangfroid

    Excellent question and I suspect you are right. Which immediately provokes the thought in my mind. How many massive solo black holes are out, basically invisible to detection. And a more extreme thought. Maybe the Great Attractor is a galaxy made entirely of this type of black hole. A galaxy of black holes…. mmm.



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  • David R Allen Sep 24, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    How many massive solo black holes are out, basically invisible to detection. And a more extreme thought. Maybe the Great Attractor is a galaxy made entirely of this type of black hole. A galaxy of black holes…. mmm.

    Galaxies can attract each other and in time merge. The Milkyway and Andromeda will merge in about 5 billion years time.

    http://www.space.com/27193-andromeda-and-milky-way-slow-dance-to-merger-animation.html

    The Milky way has various smaller galaxies orbiting it .

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Milky_Way%27s_satellite_galaxies

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwarf_galaxy

    The Milky Way has more than 20 known dwarf galaxies orbiting it, and recent observations[6] have also led astronomers to believe the largest globular cluster in the Milky Way, Omega Centauri, is in fact the core of a dwarf galaxy with a black hole at its centre, which was at some time absorbed by the Milky Way.



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  • 21
    Lindsey says:

    As of yesterday Black Holes cannot exist – Laura Mersini-Houghton! Bang goes the Big Bang theory too apparently – wot now!?



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  • The Milky Way and Andromeda will merge..

    What a shame no-one will be around to see it. I believe it will be quite a gentle procedure and not a cataclysmic collision?



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  • Nitya Sep 25, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    The Milky Way and Andromeda will merge..

    What a shame no-one will be around to see it. I believe it will be quite a gentle procedure and not a cataclysmic collision?

    Humans may be extinct, or may have failed to develop interstellar space travel befor the Sun fries the Earth, but if anyone is around, there will be numerous star-planetary systems, passing closer to each other during the merger, than at any other time.
    Anyone wanting to make a one-off trip to a new solar-system (after careful homework), would have golden opportunities to do so.



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