Enormous Black Hole Found in a Small Galaxy

Posted on November 29, 2012

NGC 1277 Disk Galaxy


Astronomers have discovered an enormous black hole at the center of a small galaxy - the NGC 1277 disk galaxy. NGC 1277 is located in the Perseus galaxy cluster, which is about 250 million light years away from Earth. The enormous black hole at NGC 1277's center has the mass of 17 billion times the mass of the Sun, which could make it the most massive black hole found to date.

Astronomers believe there is a super-massive black hole at the center of every galaxy, so discovering one in NGC 1277 was expected. What is very unusual about the black hole in NGC 1277 is not only its large mass, but the fact that it makes up about 14% of NGC 1277's total mass. Astronomers only expect a black hole to make up about 0.1% the total mass of a galaxy, so NGC 1277's black hole may force astronomers to rethink their galaxy evolution models.

A group headed by Remco van den Bosch from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy discovered the enormous black hole using the Hobby-Eberly telescope at the McDonald observatory in Texas. Remco van den Bosch describes the unusual discovery in this video. Take a look:



A research paper about the NGC 1277 black hole was published here in Nature.

Photo: NASA / ESA / Andrew C. Fabian / Remco C. E. van den Bosch (MPIA)