A Massive Black Hole in the Center of the Milky Way

A Massive Black Hole in the Center of the Milky Way

But researchers are divided over whether these are really midsized black holes, shining bright as they imbibe lots of surrounding gas, or smaller ones ingesting at a superfast rate.

If the find is confirmed it could show that our galaxy has grown by sucking out its smaller neighbors.

It is a giant "black hole" in the center of our galaxy, 100,000 times stronger than the sun, hidden behind a toxic gas nebula, 25,000 light-years from Earth!

It's estimated to have a mass of about 10,000 times that of our Sun- placing it in the intermediate sized class. IMHBs have never been officially identified, though. The research was led by Tomoharu Oka from Keio University in Yokohama, Japan, and colleagues. By carefully analysing the gas densities present in the cloud they concluded that it harboured a very large "compact object" that had to be a black hole.

Observations from the Alma telescope in Chile showed that molecules in the elliptical cloud, which is 200 light years from the centre of the Milky Way and 150 trillion kilometres wide, were being pulled around by huge gravitational forces. These characteristics could be explained by a "gravitational kick" that is caused by "invisible compact object with a mass of about 105 solar masses". It's the most promising evidence so far for an Intermediate Mass Black Holes.

Black holes are hard to spot because they don't emit any light of their own.

Here, they scanned radio waves to detect carbon monoxide.

According to The Guardian, it's believed that this newly-found black hole could be the core of an old dwarf galaxy that was cannibalised during the formation of the Milky Way billions of years ago. "That growth should happen in part by mergers with other black holes", he said. The best candidates so far have been so-called ultraluminous x-ray sources in nearby galaxies. Unfortunately, as there is little evidence scientists have suggested those aren't IMBHs but smaller back holes ingesting at a fast rate.

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Further studies showed that, near the center of the cloud, a clump of gas appeared to be drawn by gravitational forces.

The IMBH is the second-largest black hole discovered in the Milky Way next to Sagittarius A*, which is 400 million times the size of our sun. "This is the first detection of an intermediate-mass black hole candidate in the Milky Way galaxy", he said.

New observations with some of the biggest radio telescopes in the world have provided new evidence that supermassive black holes are more than just 'all-powerful cosmic drains'.

The researchers also say identifying and studying an IMBH will expand our understanding of the universe more generally.

Studies have suggested there could be between 100 million to 1 billion black holes in the Milky Way alone, but only about 60 have been identified.

They will also "increase targets to search for evidential proof of general relativity", the scientists note.

'This would make a considerable contribution to the progress of modern physics'.