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Space & Astronomy

Supermassive black holes may be everywhere

By T.K. Randall
April 8, 2016 · Comment icon 2 comments

Does every galaxy have its own supermassive black hole ? Image Credit: CC BY 4.0 ESO/M. Kornmesser
New evidence has suggested that supermassive black holes may be more common than previously thought.
These gargantuan galactic phenomena, which range in size from hundreds of thousands to billions of times the mass of our sun, are thought to be found at the center of most large galaxies.

Now though, following the discovery of a supermassive black hole in a much smaller galaxy, astronomers believe that they may actually be a lot more common that anyone had realized.

The galaxy, which is known as NGC 1600, was observed alongside 100 others as part of an investigation covering a distance of approximately 300 million light-years from the Earth.

"The black hole is much bigger than we expected for the size of the galaxy or where this galaxy lives, the environment," said study co-author Chung-Pei Ma from the University of California.
Supermassive black holes, unlike regular black holes which form from collapsing stars, are thought to grow to such enormous sizes by drawing in large amounts of dust and debris early in their lives and by merging with other large black holes during collisions with other galaxies.

How the black hole in galaxy NGC 1600 got so large however remains a bit of a mystery.

"It would be interesting to find more black holes of this mass range and check whether this is an outlier or typical case," said Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard University's astronomy department.

"Which environmental conditions nurture the growth of the most massive black holes? We would love to know the answer to that question through future studies like this one."

Source: Scientific American | Comments (2)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by LucidElement 8 years ago
How far is 300 million light years? I mean how do i fathom that in regular time/years? at what speed do you need to travel?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 8 years ago
How far is 300 million light years? I mean how do i fathom that in regular time/years? at what speed do you need to travel? A light year is the distance light travels in one year. The speed of light is around 186,000 miles per second (300,000 kps) So one light year is around 5,897,000,000,000 miles (9,460,500,000,000 km) So 300 million light years is around 1,770,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles (2,847,000,000,000,000,000,000 km)

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