AUG 14, 2018 08:36 PM PDT

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

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
JUL 15, 2018
Videos
JUL 15, 2018
Meet the Rare Binary Asteroid Recently Confirmed by NASA
Astronomers first became aware of an asteroid called YE5 in December of 2017, but something seemed odd about it after they were unable to discern its physi...
JUL 18, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 18, 2018
Blue Origin's Ninth Test Launch Yields Spectacular Results
On Wednesday, commercial space company Blue Origin performed an “extreme” test launch of its New Shepard rocket and crew capsule system. Image...
JUL 29, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 29, 2018
Friday's 'Blood Moon' Dubbed the "Longest of the 21st Century"
Depending on location, those that turned their attention to the night sky on Friday, July 27th might have noticed a particularly red Moon. Experts refer to...
AUG 08, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 08, 2018
Here's Why NASA is Sending a Probe to the Sun
An upcoming NASA probe will fly closer to the Sun than any before it. Known as the Parker Solar Probe, this spacecraft will study the Sun and many of its q...
AUG 29, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 29, 2018
Ever Wonder How Long it Takes to Get to Mars? Watch This
Sending missions to Mars isn’t as easy as it may seem at first glance. The solar system is continuously shifting as planets orbit the Sun, so it&rsqu...
SEP 17, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 17, 2018
SpaceX to Announce First Passenger for Upcoming Commercial Lunar Flight
To date, only 24 humans have journeyed to the Moon. Every one of these visits took place more than four decades ago, with the most recent visit having tran...
Loading Comments...