Astronomers catch black hole shrouded in molecular cloud

Astronomers catch black hole shrouded in molecular cloud

Astronomers may have found a massive black hole lying near the center of the Milky Way hidden by a cloud of molecular gas.

If their discovery can be confirmed, it would be the first ever evidence of an IMBH, which have always been viewed as the "missing link" in the evolution of these massive objects.

The gases in the elliptical cloud, which is 150 trillion kilometers (93 trillion miles) wide and more than 200 light-years from Earth, move at drastically different velocities.

Observations from the Alma telescope in Chile showed that molecules in the elliptical cloud, which is 200 light years from the centre of the Milky Way and 150 trillion kilometres wide, were being pulled around by enormous gravitational forces.

Computer models suggest that this is most likely caused by an invisible compact object: an inactive IMBH that does not now accrete matter. The smallest black holes form when particular types of stars explode at the end of their lives.

But the mass of the newly identified black hole is only about 100,000 times that of our sun - placing it in the "intermediate sized" class.

Finding an IMBH would open up a new avenue of research in understanding supermassive black holes-black holes that can be billions of times the mass of the sun that sit at the center of most massive galaxies, including the Milky Way.

News Week reports about how the potential black hole was marked.

It's believed they could be the seeds of their more massive counterparts - merging together to form a big one. intermediate black holes might simply turn out to be their progenitors. "Knowing that nature has a way to make black holes with a mass of a hundred thousand solar masses really fills in a gap and may hold important clues to the formation of all massive black holes".

This is the first hint that a black hole could be present, as scientists are unable to see black holes, which do not emit light. Eventually, Oka explained to The Guardian, the object will sink toward Sagittarius A*, closer and closer, until it's swallowed up, increasing the mass of Sagittarius A* as it joins it at the heart of our galaxy. They found that this molecular cloud exhibited some properties which are hard to explain, but would fit in very nicely a with "gravitational kick" caused by an "invisible compact object". But they can be detected by their influence on nearby objects, for example if the black hole is in a binary pair with a star, or if it is consuming gas which gets heated as it approaches and shines brightly. According to scientists' calculations, the Milky Way is home to about 100m of these smaller black holes, though only about 60 have been spotted. Also, Tomoharu Oka form the Keio University in Japan, leads a team of scientists, which says that it has some solid evidences of the existing mid-sized black hole which has been hanging out in our galaxy since long. If it were, in fact, a black hole, it would provide the first confirmation of the existence of intermediate-mass black holes. Instead, the scientists suggest it is the former core of a dwarf galaxy that has been subsumed into the Milky Way, stripped of its stars, and is destined to one day fall into Sgr A*.

'This would make a considerable contribution to the progress of modern physics'.

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