Astronomers Discover Mini-Supermassive Black Hole

Posted on October 24, 2012

Astronomers have announced the discovery of a mini-supermassive black hole in a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal by Nathan Secrest, from George Mason University and collaborators. It is possibly the lowest mass nuclear black hole currently known. The authors estimate the black hole has a mass of less than about 200,000 times that of the sun. This is a puny value for a supermassive black hole compared to the typical values for supermassive black holes of millions to billions of times the mass of the sun.

The black hole is located in the middle of the spiral galaxy NGC 4178, which is about 55 million light years from Earth. The black hole was located using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and several other observatories. The inset in the above image, from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, shows an X-ray source at the position of the black hole.

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