Scientists believe that they have found a second black hole near the center of our galaxy, and one which could help explain more about how these mysterious phenomena develop.
The discovery began last year, when Tomoharu Oka and other scientists from Keio University in Japan observed CO–0.40–0.22, a gas cloud 200 light years from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. The random and quick gas flows from the cloud led to the theory that it contains an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH).
“Based on the careful analysis of gas kinematics, we concluded that a compact object with a mass of about [100,000] solar masses is lurking in this cloud,” the scientists explained.
The Milky Way Already Harbors a Supermassive Black Hole
A supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, lies in the center of our galaxy; it is estimated to be millions or even billion times more massive than the sun.
This is part of what makes the discovery of a second black hole so interesting. Up until now, astronomers have managed to discover some supermassive black holes, and the much smaller stellar-massive black holes (between three and ten times the size of the sun), but not intermediate-massive black holes.
Scientists are hoping that further study of these medium giants could help determine how the supermassive variety develop over time; so far it is unclear how they reach such improbable sizes.
Since they seem to lie in the center of galaxies, it is theorized to be a combination of feeding on galactic junk (including planets and stars) and colliding with other galaxies and their own black holes.
It is also unclear how IMBHs form themselves; they are too large to come from single stars going supernova, like their stellar-massive cousins. Oko’s team theorizes that this new discovery used to be the center of its own dwarf galaxy before colliding with ours.
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