Researchers have for the first time managed to detect an intermediate-mass black hole which is thousands of times the mass of the Sun, the Science Daily reports.
The discovery of the so-called “quiet” black hole was made by a team of astronomers led by Shunya Takekawa at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan who earlier tracked a swirling cloud of gas near the heart of the Milky Way.
After the astronomers measured the cloud’s motion with the help of the Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array, they concluded that the swirling was caused by a previously unknown black hole.
“Detailed kinematic analyses [of the newly-discovered hole] revealed that an enormous mass, 30,000 times that of the Sun, was concentrated in a region much smaller than our Solar System. This and the lack of any observed object at that location strongly suggests an intermediate-mass black hole,” Takekawa explained.
Tomoharu Oka, a professor at Keio University and co-leader of the team, in turn underscored the significance of the intermediate mass black hole being detected just 20 light-years from the super-massive black hole at the galactic centre.
“In the future, it will fall into the supermassive black hole, much like gas is currently falling into it. This supports the merger model of black hole growth”, he pointed out.