Black holes previously hiding in plain sight have been discovered by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who have found a treasure trove of massive black holes in dwarf galaxies.
A string of 13 dwarf galaxies in orbit around the massive galaxy Andromeda –remnants of the population of primordial structures that coalesced to form giant galaxies like the Milky Way–are spread across a flat plane more than one million light years wide and only 30,000 light years thick –a distance so vast that they have yet to complete a single orbit. The 2016 discovery suggests that conventional ideas regarding the formation of galaxies are missing something fundamental.
Editor, Jackie Faherty, astrophysicist, Senior Scientist with AMNH. Jackie was formerly a NASA Hubble Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Aside from a love of scientific research, she is a passionate educator and can often be found giving public lectures in the Hayden Planetarium. Her research team has won multiple grants from NASA, NSF, and the Heising Simons foundation to support projects focused on characterising planet-like objects. She has also co-founded the popular citizen science project entitled Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 which invites the general public to help scan the solar neighbourhood for previously missed cold worlds. A Google Scholar, Faherty has over 100 peer reviewed articles in astrophysical journals and has been an invited speaker at universities and conferences across the globe. Jackie received the 2020 Vera Rubin Early Career Prize from the American Astronomical Society, an award that recognises scientists who have made an impact in the field of dynamical astronomy and the 2021 Robert H Goddard Award for science accomplishments.
Our massive Milky Way Galaxy –the second-largest galaxy in the Local Group after the Andromeda Galaxy–is orbited by more than twenty dwarf galaxies that are thought to be relics of the very first galaxies in the universe, A new ultra-faint dwarf galaxy (UFD), the least luminous, most dark matter dominated, and least chemically evolved galaxies known, has been discovered at a distance of about 293,000 light years away from the Earth.
A big step in solving the mystery of how the very biggest black holes grow has been taken by researchers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. They identified a black hole containing about 200,000 times the mass of the Sun, buried in gas and dust in the dwarf galaxy Mrk 462. ”Future sensitive observations, using x-ray and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) for example, will be able to find signatures of direct collapse black holes over a wider range of masses and growth rates, and help determine whether they form the seeds of the supermassive black holes we see today,” wrote Dartmouth University astrophysicist Ryan Hickox in an email to The Daily Galaxy,
Massive ultracompact galaxies have similar numbers of stars as our Milky Way but are confined to only a tenth the size or a thousandth the volume. They evolve in an accelerated way when compared to other galaxies in the Universe. By understanding their properties, astronomers can understand the eventual fate of all galaxies, including our own Milky Way.
Cosmological simulations include dozens of prescriptions to describe the 13.8-billion-year evolution of the Universe, including numerical recipes for dark energy (so-called lambda), weakly interacting cold dark matter, gas accretion onto primordial galaxies, star formation and evolution, and feedback from quasars and supernovae. The outcome of these lambda cold dark matter simulations reproduce many of the observed features of the real universe. However, the models predict that dozens of small dwarf satellite galaxies should orbit medium-sized galaxies like our Milky Way and Andromeda in random orientations, but new research suggests most satellite galaxies orbit their host galaxies aligned along a single plane.