Astronomers catch black hole shrouded in molecular cloud

Nettie James
September 7, 2017

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

Astronomers have long chased evidence of mid-sized black holes - black holes larger than the ones formed from a single star, but still much smaller than supermassive black holes.

Researchers will continue to study this IMBH in order to understand its nature in a detailed manner. Nearby is the gas cloud CO-0.40-0.22, probable home to an intermediate-mass black hole. 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.

Astrophysicists have suspected an intermediate class of black hole might exist - with masses between a hundred and several hundred thousand times that of the Sun. The similarities could indicate the existence of a mid-sized black hole, the researchers say.

That's even more the case now that a supermassive black hole has been discovered in our very own solar system.

According to the General Relativity Theory, prescribed by Albert Einstein in 1915, the formation of black holes takes place from the violent collision of two dying stars.

It's believed they could be the seeds of their more massive counterparts - merging together to form a big one. intermediate black holes might simply turn out to be their progenitors.

This represents something of a first for astronomers, since the vast majority of black holes discovered to date have been either small or massive. It's a molecular cloud, which absorbs most wavelengths of light, making it hard to see what's inside. 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.

Looming in the middle of every galaxy, supermassive black holes weigh as much as ten billion suns - fuelling the birth of stars and deforming the fabric of space-time itself. The cloud has unusual properties which scientists believe to be the result of a gravitational blow caused by a compact object of the size of 105 solar masses. This discovery shows that very young black holes grew more aggressively than previously thought, in tandem with the growth of their host galaxies.

"Theoretical studies have predicted that 100 million to one billion black holes should exist in the Milky Way, although only 60 or so have been identified through observations so far", said the authors. The cloud had what the team called "extremely broad velocity width", meaning it was moving very fast with varying velocities they could not explain.

Astronomers in Japan collected data supporting the black hole's existence while exploring a cloud of molecular gas located near the center of the Milky Way, in which the gas moved at vastly different speeds. The newly-detected signal, Time said, may be coming from the core of a one-time dwarf galaxy that was consumed by the Milky Way.

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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