One of more than 100 million “silent” black holes hidden in our galaxy, it is not a supermassive black hole, but just an intermediate-mass black hole.
A team of Japanese astronomers used the ALMA telescope to record in detail previously unknown structures in the center of the Milky Way. Even if it cannot be compared to the supermassive black hole in the middle of the Milky Way (4 million times the mass of the Sun), this black hole still has enough to overwhelm us since it is up to 30,000 times heavier than our Sun!
The ALMA radio telescope complex is located in the Atacama Desert, Chile. Photo: Wikipedia
In reality, black holes tend to fall into two groups: either quite small – only about five times the mass of the Sun, or supermassive – equivalent to millions of Suns. However, in recent years, more and more evidence has been found for the existence of an “intermediate” type of black hole between the two types mentioned above. They are intermediate-mass black holes, with masses ranging from 100 to 100,000 times that of the Sun.
Until now, no one has ever found an intermediate black hole.
A black hole is primarily determined by its mass. These are objects with such a strong gravitational pull that anything, including light, when approached too close, will be drawn inward and unable to escape. Since black holes don’t emit light, researchers can only conclude their existence through the gravitational effects they create with other objects. Specifically, in this case, the intermediate-mass black hole was discovered when they studied its effect on an interstellar gas cloud. This cloud is labeled HCN–0.009–0.044. First, astronomers noticed an anomaly in its movement near the center of the Milky Way. The team from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan used the ALMA telescope, located in northern Chile, to make high-resolution observations of this cloud. In this way, they realized that the cloud was rotating around a large, invisible object.
Illustration of a black hole. Source: Phys
The team’s findings suggest that there could still be countless black holes hidden in the darkness around the center of the Milky Way. In a recent statement, the lead author of the study said:
“Detailed dynamic analyzes have revealed that a black hole with a massive mass, 30,000 times that of the Sun, is located in a region of space much smaller than the solar system. In addition, the “lack” of nearby celestial bodies further strengthens the conclusion of the existence of a medium-mass black hole. By analyzing anomalous clouds, we hope to continue revealing other silent black holes. »
Astronomers know of many supermassive black holes, monsters that reside at the centers of galaxies. One theory is that intermediate black holes merge with each other, then continue to devour the matter around them to transform into supermassive black holes. New findings further prove the correctness of the above argument.
The discovery of a medium-sized black hole just 20 light years from the center of the galaxy is of great significance. – said Professor Tomoharu Oka from Keio University – In the future, it will fall into the supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy, and even now gas jets are already beginning to be attracted towards it. This further supports the merger model in black hole growth.