A Three-Galaxy Mashup Observed Harboring a Monster Supermassive Black Hole

 

 

Idcs1426

 

Australians astronomers have announced that they observed a supermassive black hole discovered during a test of CSIRO's new ASKAP telescope, clued by gasses swirling at the center of the galaxy were traveling 600 km per second, twice as fast as would have been expected.The monster object dwarfs anything in our galactic neighborhood, formed from the collision of three galaxies, the massive cluster IRAS 20100−4156, 1.8 million light years from Earth. In vivid contrast, the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy is around 4.3 million times the mass of the sun. Astrophysicists believe, however, that the largest black holes in the universe may reach 40 billion solar masses or more.


The observations were made using CSIRO's new Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope and the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA). Lisa Harvey-Smith, an astrophysicist at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science and lead author of the paper, told Anna Salleh at ABC News: "This very fast motion of the gas tells us about how massive the black hole is. The really exciting thing about this is it is a direct measurement of the mass of the black hole by stuff that's swirling around it."

 

"The black hole at the center of our galaxy is only 4 million solar masses, so this one is a monster in comparison," Harvey-Smith continued. "This very fast motion of the gas tells us about how massive the black hole is. The really exciting thing about this is it is a direct measurement of the mass of the black hole by stuff that's swirling around it."

"We want to know whether galaxy collisions, and the formation of supermassive black holes, have really driven the star formation rates that we see in galaxies and how that's changed throughout time," she added. The paper has been accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The image at the top of the page shows another massive, sprawling and churning galaxy cluster, IDCS 1426, that formed only 3.8 billion years after the Big Bang and is 1,000 times more massive than our Milky Way galaxy, located 10 billion light years from Earth and potentially comprising thousands of individual galaxies. The megastructure is about 250 trillion times more massive than the Sun.

According to the team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Missouri, University of Florida and elsewhere, IDCS 1426 appears to be undergoing a substantial amount of upheaval. The researchers observed a bright knot of X-rays, slightly off-center in the cluster, indicating that the cluster’s core may have shifted some hundred thousand light years from its center.

The core may have been dislodged from a violent collision with another massive galaxy cluster, causing the gas within the cluster to slosh around, like wine in a glass that has been suddenly moved. “In the grand scheme of things, galaxies probably didn’t start forming until the universe was relatively cool, and yet this thing has popped up very shortly after that,” said Michael McDonald, assistant professor of physics at MIT. “Our guess is that another similarly massive cluster came in and sort of wrecked the place up a bit. That would explain why this is so massive and growing so quickly. It’s the first one to the gate, basically."

The Daily Galaxy via RAS.org and The Daily Mail

Image credit: NASA/Chandra X-ray Observatory

 

 

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