The galaxy NGC 1277 is in the center of this shot. Credit: David W. Hogg, Michael Blanton, and the SDSS Collaboration
Vorlesen Voracious, monstrous and with almost unimaginable dimensions - the dark giants of the universe once again make headlines: astronomers have discovered in the center of a galaxy a black hole, which could possibly be the most massive known specimen with 17 billion solar masses. Even if the record values ​​still have to be confirmed, it is already clear that the celestial body is beyond the current models of galaxy development. Its mass is completely disproportionate in relation to that of its entire galaxy, according to researchers around Remco van den Bosch from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. Black holes are probably the most bizarre celestial bodies the Universe has to offer. Their enormous gravity also tugs at the human imagination: their gravity is so strong that even the light can not escape? that's why the term "black hole". According to the current state of science, all galaxies in their center have a black hole with a mass between a few hundred thousand and several billion solar masses. The best studied specimen has around four million solar masses? it is that? black heart? our home galaxy, the Milky Way.

Previous studies of the masses of galaxies and their black holes suggested that there is a direct relationship between the mass of the central black hole and the mass of stars in its galaxy. Typically, the black hole comes to about 0.1 percent of the total mass. This ratio plays an important role in all currently common models of galaxy formation, the researchers emphasize. But the now discovered gravitational monster does not fit at all to these models.

Against the rules: The giant sits in a too small galaxy

The Giant's find was made possible by observations from the Hobby-Eberly Telescope and archived images from the Hubble Space Telescope. The supermassereiche black hole is located in the center of a disk galaxy called NGC 1277. With 17 billion solar masses it could be currently the largest known black hole, because the previous record holder there are ambiguities: its mass is estimated at 6 to 37 billion solar masses. So if the true value is at the bottom, the NGC 1277 black hole would break that record. display

The even greater surprise for astronomers, however, is that the mass of the central black hole accounts for 14 percent of the total mass of NGC 1277. Looking only at the central, also called bulge area of ​​the galaxies, the black hole even comes to just under 60 percent of the total mass - the previous record holder managed just 11 percent. According to the previous models, a black hole with 17 billion solar masses would have to sit in a galaxy at least ten times larger and not in a small disk galaxy like NGC 1277, the astronomers say.

The question is: is the disproportionate giant just an exception? Preliminary research results from Bosch and his colleagues seem to indicate that the answer? No? could be. Because the researchers already found evidence of five other galaxies that are relatively small, but still seem to have unusually massive central black holes. If the assumption is confirmed, then astronomers must fundamentally rethink their models of galaxy evolution.

Remco van den Bosch (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy) et al .: Nature, doi: 10.1038 / nature11592 © - Martin Vieweg


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