Scientists discover super-massive black hole in motion - Happy Boss

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Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Scientists discover super-massive black hole in motion

Scientists have discovered a "restless" super-massive black hole wandering within its galaxy named J0437+2456.

An artist's impression of a growing supermassive black hole located in the early Universe. (Image: Reuters)

Scientists have discovered a "restless" super-massive black hole wandering in space with a the velocity of around 4,810 kilometres per second (2,990 miles per second). It has been found in the galaxy named J0437+2456.

Researchers at the Center for Astrophysics-Harvard and Smithsonian have identified "what is the clearest case till date of a super-massive black hole in motion". The findings have been published in journal, The Astrophysical Journal this month.

An analysis by researchers revealed that the velocity of the super-massive black hole is around 4,810 kilometres per second (2,990 miles per second), Science Alert reported.

The galaxy's neutral hydrogen appears to be receding at a slightly higher velocity of 4,910 kilometres per second. According to observations of star and gas movements, the velocity of the inner region of the galaxy is 4,860 kilometres per second.

Are the velocities of the black holes the same as the velocities of the galaxies they reside in?

"We expect them to have the same velocity. If they don't, that implies the black hole has been disturbed," said Astronomer Dominic Pesce of the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

However, scientists said it was difficult to tell exactly why everything was wobbling around in there. The explanation came from the analysis that showed all the measurements differed from each other quite significantly, and the galaxy's entire velocity structure seemed quite complicated.

WHAT STUDY REVEALED?

For conducting the study, the team of researchers observed 10 mega-masers and compared the black hole’s velocity data against observations of the entire galaxy.

Nine of the 10 mega-masers were consistent with the team's expectations of super-massive black holes lurking in the galactic centre, like a spider in a web, the report said.

Meanwhile, one of the mega-masers showed different behaviour. The spiral galaxy J0437+2456, located around 228 million light-years away, has a super-massive black hole that seemed to be moving at a significantly different velocity from the rest of the galaxy.

This super-massive black hole is believed to be around 3 million times the mass of the Sun.

MOVING SUPER-MASSIVE BLACK HOLES ARE RARE

"We don't expect the majority of super-massive black holes to be moving; they're usually content to just sit around," study lead author and Astronomer Dominic Pesce said.

"They're just so heavy that it's tough to get them going. Consider how much more difficult it is to kick a bowling ball into motion than it is to kick a soccer ball -- realizing that in this case, the 'bowling ball' is several million times the mass of our Sun. That’s going to require a pretty mighty kick," Pesce said.

POSSIBLE EXPLANATIONS FOR THE MOVEMENT

The Science Alert report listed some of the possible explanations for the movement of the massive black hole in the galaxy.

"The galaxy could be experiencing an ongoing encounter with another massive object, like another galaxy." This could be one possibility.

The other was: "The super-massive black hole could have collided with another super-massive black hole, generating a recoil kick that pushed the black hole out of position."

It may also be possible that "the wobbling could be the galaxy and black hole settling back down."

"Or, the black hole could have an unseen binary companion, the two objects orbiting a mutual centre of gravity within the galactic nucleus," the report said.

"Despite every expectation that they really ought to be out there in some abundance, scientists have had a hard time identifying clear examples of binary super-massive black holes," Pesce said.

"What we could be seeing in the galaxy J0437+2456 is one of the black holes in such a pair, with the other remaining hidden to our radio observations because of its lack of maser emission," he explained.

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