© nasa.gov / NASA
Just 50,000 times the mass of the Sun, a new supermassive singularity discovered by NASA is a tiny thing by cosmic standards. Scientists hope studying the black hole will help them learn more about the origins of the universe.
Using the orbiting Chandra X-ray observatory and the 6.5 meter Clay Telescope in Chile, astronomers found the black hole at the center of a dwarf disk galaxy, called RGG 118, some 340 million light years from Earth. The X-rays were produced by the hot gas swirling around the black hole.
“When gas rotates around a black hole, the motion causes the frequency of the light it emits to spread in a characteristic way. The width of this spread is related to the speed of rotation, which in turn is related to the mass of the black hole. By measuring the spread, we found that the black hole in RGG 118 weighs just 50,000 times the mass of the Sun, the smallest supermassive black hole yet reported!” wrote Vivienne Baldassare of the University of Michigan, lead author on the paper about the small supermassive black holes.
This is less than half the previous lowest for a black hole observed at the center of a galaxy, according to scientists at the Chandra project. The black hole in RGG 118 is about 100 times less massive than the singularity found at the center of the Milky Way, and about 200,000 less massive than the heaviest black holes found at…