Scientists have uncovered a supermassive black hole at the core of a svelte, spiral galaxy, a finding that questions a recently devised rule of thumb in which only galaxies with bulging cores have such black holes.
A photo of the spiral galaxy NGC 4395, taken with the Palomar 200-inch telescope. NGC 4395 is the least luminous and nearest Seyfert galaxy, located eight million light years away. Surprisingly, despite having a supermassive black hole at its core, it has no central bulge. (Credit: Allan Sandage/Carnegie Institution)
Dr. Alex Filippenko, professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, and Dr. Luis Ho, an astronomer at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, in Pasadena, discuss these results in the May 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The scientists determined that galaxy NGC 4395, a flat "pure-disk" galaxy with no central bulge, has a central black hole approximately 10,000 to 100,000 times the mass of our sun. This suggests that other pure-disk galaxies, thought to be devoid of supermassive black holes, may indeed have one lurking within - quite possibly the featherweights of the supermassive black hole club.
Robert Sanders | UC Berkeley
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