A “monstrous” mini-black hole dug up in a dwarf galaxy

A team of astronomers has discovered a supermassive black hole on a few hundred thousand solar masses in a dwarf galaxy, Mrk 462. The discovery of this “small” black hole hidden by gas and matter could allow scientists to learn more about formation and life cycle of these cosmic phenomena.

Among the cosmic ogres that are supermassive black holes, it sometimes happens to find specimens of small size. A team ofastronomers has published January 10th a press release on the detection of a supermassive black hole in the heart of dwarf galaxy Markarian 462 (Mrk 462). Located at 110 millionlight yearsMrk 462 proves to be a compact system, although it is more sparsely populated than other galaxies such as The Milky Way. The researchers used space telescope Chandra, who has discovered several black holes since the beginning of her mission. Studying the galactic core of Mrk 462 would put scientists on track to understand the evolution of black holes.

Supermassive black hole for a dwarf galaxy

The characteristics of the black hole in Mrk 462 arouse the curiosity of scientists. Jack Parker, an astronomer from the University of Dartmouth (USA), explained on the occasion of a conference forAmerican Astronomical Society, on 10 January that ” this supermassive black hole is one of the smallest ever found »despite its 200,000 masses solar power (200,000 times The mass of the sunor 1,989 × 1030 kg). Discovering this phenomenon in the heart of a dwarf galaxy proved to be a complex task. Mrk 462 has a special configuration that brings together a few hundred millionstarsagainst hundreds of billions in one spiral galaxy “classic” such as the Milky Way or M31 (Andromeda). With its status as a dwarf galaxy, the Mrk 462 thus has a relatively compact appearance, the supermassive black hole is obscured by gas and fabric gravitating around.

This parameter greatly complicated its detection. In the case of larger galaxies, the discovery of supermassive black holes usually occurs through the observation of stars orbiting in its environment, studying their spectra (including redshift, or red shift) or even theirs speed of gravity. But in the case of the black hole in the Markarian 462, which turns out to be “buried” under a large amount of gas, the scientists were helped by a device with incredible precision: the Chandra telescope.

Chandra tracks X-rays

While viscous gas spirals toward the event horizon of a black hole molecules will experience a strong friction effect. The latter will evoke an abrupt ionization of the gasand cause one episode of X-rays. Certain devices such as the Chandra Space Telescope can then capture this radiation. Chandra, launched in 1999 by Nasais equipped with three spectrometers and a camera for performing precise observations of objects such as pulsars, remains of supernovae or black holes, making it one of the most successful observatories in the last 30 years.

The discovery of the black hole from Mrk 462 makes it possible to assume the existence of such phenomena in other dwarf galaxies and thus learn more about the evolution of black holes into giant monsters of several million solar masses. Some of them formed very quickly after the beginning of the universe (about a billion years later) big bang), without the researchers being able to explain how. If the dissertation ofcollapse the gravity of a massive star into a black hole is the most prevalent today, they can also occur during the collapse of matter to dense clouds of dust and cosmic gas.

If the study of Markarian 462 is only in its infancy, NASA astronomers do not hide their desire to continue tracking dwarf galaxies and their black holes to learn more about these mysterious phenomena.

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