m3n4.net September 25, 2018

Midsized black hole may be hiding out in the Milky Way

07 September 2017, 01:32 | Brenda Erickson

A church silhouetted below a belt of the Milky Way Credit EPA PETER KOMKA

A church silhouetted below a belt of the Milky Way

Black holes are the stuff of dreams for science fiction writers everywhere and a source of fascination for scientists and ordinary people alike.

Kevin Schawinski, an astronomer from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, stated that, "It's a very careful paper and they have gorgeous data". It wasn't until 2014 that researchers from the University of Maryland and NASA definitively measured a black hole with a mass of 400 suns and thereby confirmed the existence of the whole class. Since astronomers have a collection of the evidences for detection of the star-sized, small black holes, which are said to be upto 10 times of the solar mass.

This represents something of a first for astronomers, since the vast majority of black holes discovered to date have been either small or massive. The gases in the cloud move at unusual speeds, and the scientists believed they were being pulled by vast gravitational forces. This similarity with Sgr A* "supports the notion that CO-0.40-0.22* [the asterisk denoting the radio source] is an intermediate-mass black hole", Oka says.

The scientists' suspicions that a black hole was responsible became more likely when further observations picked up radio waves indicative of a black hole coming from the centre of the cloud.

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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.

If their discovery can be confirmed, it would be the first ever evidence of an IMBH, which have always been viewed as the "missing link" in the evolution of these massive objects.

Oka has yet to say if that'll result in the destruction of the world as we know it and we'll be sucked up into and destroyed by a vortex of incredible nothingness.

It's hard to find black holes - because they are completely black. But they can be detected by their influence on nearby objects, for example if the black hole is in a binary pair with a star, or if it is consuming gas which gets heated as it approaches and shines brightly.

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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". However, until now no definitive evidence has existed for intermediate-mass black holes that could indicate a middle step between the small and massive black holes already detected. The researchers found that there was a dense part of the gas cloud near its center that also showed varying velocities.

It was found hiding in a cloud of molecular gas by Japanese astronomers using the Alma (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) 16,400 feet above sea level in the Andes in northern Chile.

Black holes are formed by the death of massive stars. According to scientists' calculations, the Milky Way is home to about 100m of these smaller black holes, though only about 60 have been spotted. If it were, in fact, a black hole, it would provide the first confirmation of the existence of intermediate-mass black holes.

They will also "increase targets to search for evidential proof of general relativity", the scientists note.

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