- BBC Science Focus
- Sara Rigby
Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is surrounded by black holes, but a recent discovery has indicated that one of them is much more special.
It is approximately 55,000 times the mass of the Sun and what makes it so peculiar, according to the scientific community, is that it could be a relic created before the first stars and galaxies were formed.
They believe that this particular black hole may be the seed of the supermassive black holes that exist today and could help scientists estimate the total number of these objects in the universe, the researchers said.
The discovery of this black hole of “intermediate mass” or of type Goldilocks, which is different from the small black holes made of stars and supermassive giants at the core of most galaxies, was published in the trade journal Nature Astronomy.
Researchers estimate that there are 46,000 intermediate mass black holes in the vicinity of the Milky Way.
The new black hole was discovered by researchers at the University of Melbourne and Monash University, through gravitational lensing of a gamma-ray burst.
“This newly discovered black hole could be an ancient relic, a primordial black hole, created in the early universe before the first stars and galaxies formed, “said study co-author Professor Eric Thrane of Monash University.
“These early black holes may be the seeds of supermassive black holes that live today in the hearts of the galaxies. “
What is a black hole?
- A black hole is a region of space where matter has collapsed in on itself.
- The gravitational pull is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape it.
- Black holes arise from the explosive disappearance of certain large stars.
- But some are truly gigantic and have billions of times the mass of our Sun.
- Black holes are detected by the way they influence their environment.
How did you get to see
The explosion, a half-second flash of high-energy light emitted by a pair of fused stars, had a “echo”, caused by the intermediate mass black hole, which deflected the path of light on its way to Earth so that astronomers saw the same flash twice.
The software developed for detect black holes from gravitational waves it was adapted to show that the two flashes were images of the same object.
The paper’s co-author, Professor Rachel Webster of the University of Melbourne, described the findings as “exciting.”
“Using this new black hole candidate, we can estimate the total number of these objects in the universe,” he said.
“We predicted this could be possible 30 years ago, and it’s exciting have discovered a solid example“he added.
Now you can receive notifications from BBC Mundo. Download the new version of our app and activate them so you don’t miss out on our best content.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.