Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astronomers detect black hole in tiny 'dwarf' galaxy

09.01.2007
Astronomers have found evidence of a supermassive black hole at the heart of a dwarf elliptical galaxy about 54 million light years away from the Milky Way galaxy where Earth resides.

It is only the second time a supermassive black hole has been discerned in a dwarf galaxy, and only the third time that astronomers have observed a double nucleus at the heart of a galaxy, said Victor P. Debattista, a postdoctoral researcher in astronomy at the University of Washington.

The galaxy, called VCC128, lies in the Virgo Cluster and is about 1 percent the size of the Milky Way. All of its stars combined would equal 100 million to 1 billion of our suns, Debattista said.

"It's a very small galaxy, on the outskirts of the cluster," he said. "It is effectively the smallest galaxy in which there is a supermassive black hole."

Black holes lie at the center of many galaxies, and have gravitational fields so powerful that nothing – not even light – can escape. A supermassive black hole is so large that its mass equals anywhere between 100,000 and 10 billion of our suns.

Debattista is the lead author of a poster detailing the discovery being presented today at the American Astronomical Society national meeting in Seattle. Co-authors are Ignacio Ferreras of Kings College in London, Anna Pasquali of the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie in Germany, Anil Seth at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Boston, Sven De Rijcke of the Universiteit Gent in Belgium, and Lorenzo Morelli of Pontificia Universidad Católica in Chile. The work was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, a Brooks Prize Fellowship at the UW and the Fund for Scientific Research in Belgium.

The scientists were sifting through archived data from the Hubble Space Telescope when they found the supermassive black hole. They were studying the nuclei of dwarf galaxies, which are thought to develop from globular clusters, tightly packed spherical collections of stars that orbit a galaxy. As they examined the properties of the nuclei, they discovered one galaxy, VCC128, that had a double nucleus. Ultimately they determined the double nucleus is made up of two points of light from stars collected at opposite edges of a ring surrounding a black hole. Using the 3.5-meter telescope at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, they measured properties of light from the nucleus and found that the nucleus is a ring of stars at least 1 billion years old, meaning the system probably is very stable.

"The fact that we found a black hole is impressive because it's been thought that a galaxy this small should not be able to host a black hole," Debattista said. "It had been speculated that dwarf galaxies like this could not make black holes."

The researchers believe the black hole has a mass at least equal to the ring of stars surrounding it, ranging from 1 million to 50 million times the mass of our sun.

"The question remains whether other dwarf galaxies with bright nuclei are indeed similar systems. We may not see more of these stellar rings because they are so small," said Ferreras.

The finding helps in understanding the processes occurring in low-mass dwarf galaxies as they travel through space and merge with other dwarfs to form larger galaxies. As that happens, their black holes also become more massive.

"The dwarf galaxies that escaped from this merging process offer us the opportunity to study the properties of the building blocks of today's massive galaxies and the supermassive black holes they host," said De Rijcke.

Vince Stricherz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.washington.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State

nachricht What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>