AUG 14, 2018 8:36 PM PDT

Astronomers Spy Supermassive Black Hole At the Center of An Ultracompact Dwarf Galaxy

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

It’s not uncommon for astronomers to find supermassive black holes at the center of massive galaxies, but it is somewhat unusual for astronomers to see them at the center of ultra-compact dwarf galaxies.

With that in mind, new evidence for the existence of a supermassive black hole at the center of Fornax UCD3 in the Fornax galaxy cluster is turning a quite a few heads in the scientific community.

Image Credit: NASA/STScI/ESO/Afanasiev et al.

An international team of astronomers claims to have made the discovery after peering at the distant galaxy cluster with the SINFONI instrument on one of the European Space Observatory’s 8.2-meter Very Large Telescopes (VLT). The findings have been published this week in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

"We have discovered a supermassive black hole in the center of Fornax UCD3. The black hole mass is 3.5 million that of the sun, similar to the central black hole in our own Milky Way," explained astronomer Anton Afanasiev, the paper’s first author.

Related: This is the most distant supermassive black hole found to date

Ultracompact dwarf galaxies stand out from the crowd because they pack a lot of matter into a relatively small stellar system. The radius of ultra-compact dwarf galaxies rarely surpasses 300 light-years, yet the amount of mass they encompass is comparable to a typical galaxy.

As you might come to expect, ultracompact galaxies contain lots of stars just like normal ones do, and this is precisely what the astronomers studied while peeking at Fornax UCD3. During their analysis, they discerned signs of velocity dispersion, an attribute of stars that reside close to supermassive black holes.

Computer models factored in the levels of velocity dispersion that were observed, and the researchers concluded that the supermassive black hole at the center of Fornax UCD3 sported a mass equivalent to 3.5 million solar masses, or 4% of the mass of the entire galaxy.

Finding a supermassive black hole at the center of an ultracompact dwarf galaxy is undoubtedly rare, but not unheard of. This research marks only the fourth known instance of these particular circumstances in modern astronomy, a mind-boggling statistic that underscores its importance.

Future studies may uncover more ultra-compact dwarf galaxies with supermassive black holes at their centers, but only time will tell.

Source: EurekAlert

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAR 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
United States Space Force Launches First Mission
MAR 29, 2020
United States Space Force Launches First Mission
Despite all the measures that are currently in place to keep as much of the general public away from public places as po ...
JUN 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Hubble Captures the 'Flapping' of Cosmic 'Wings'
JUN 29, 2020
Hubble Captures the 'Flapping' of Cosmic 'Wings'
The Hubble Space Telescope continues to send us incredible images of space. It has recently captured an image involving ...
JUL 05, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Spot Exposed Planetary Core for First Time
JUL 05, 2020
Astronomers Spot Exposed Planetary Core for First Time
For the first time, astronomers have spotted a planet with an exposed core. Known as TOI-849b, the finding could help us ...
JUL 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Closest Ever Images of the Sun Expose Previously Unknown Features
JUL 18, 2020
Closest Ever Images of the Sun Expose Previously Unknown Features
New images from the Solar Orbiter, a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) that launched in Feb ...
JUL 25, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Mammalian Cells May Have Trouble Fighting Space Bugs
JUL 25, 2020
Mammalian Cells May Have Trouble Fighting Space Bugs
New research has suggested that humans and other terrestrial mammals might have trouble identifying and responding to mi ...
AUG 05, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Mars Was Shaped by Ice Sheets - not Rivers
AUG 05, 2020
Mars Was Shaped by Ice Sheets - not Rivers
Physicists have found that in the distant past, Mars may not have been warm enough to carry vast oceans. Instead, in new ...
Loading Comments...