Telescope finds massive black hole, challenges former theories

By Bobby Blanchard

Daily Texan, U. Texas via UWIRE

Telescope finds massive black hole, challenges former theories

Theories about how black holes are grown inside a galaxy may have to be modified because of a recent discovery astronomers made using U. Texas’ Hobby-Eberly Telescope.

While working on a study to better understand how galaxies grow and form together, astronomers discovered a massive black hole with a size relative to its galaxy bigger than any before. Discovered in galaxy NGC 1277, the black hole makes up 14 percent of the galaxy’s mass. Usually, black holes make up .1 percent of  a galaxy’s mass. This black hole has the mass of 17 billion suns.

Karl Gebhardt, UT professor and member of the study, said the black hole “stuck out like a sore thumb.”

“It just has such an extreme black hole mass compared to its galaxy, that it is really going to strain the theories as to how you grow a black hole inside a galaxy,” Gebhardt said.

The study is ongoing, but Gebhardt said if they find other galaxies in similar situations then this could contradict current black hole theories.

“If this is an extreme oddball galaxy, then, you know, odd things happen, this is a big universe, you’re going to get some weird ones now and then,” Gebhardt said. “But if we find these to be a pattern, which is my suspicion now, then we are going to have to modify the theories for how you grow a black hole.”


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