A dwarf black hole gave itself away by swallowing a nearby star

(ORDO NEWS) — For a long time, scientists did not suspect that a black hole was “hiding” in a dwarf galaxy with a boring name SDSS J152120.07+140410.5.

However, she betrayed herself when she swallowed a nearby star: as a result, astronomers recorded a brief burst of radiation that turned out to be even brighter than the light of the galaxy itself.

Supermassive black holes, such as the Milky Way at the center of our galaxy, are common in the universe.

At the same time, astronomers know less about the black holes of dwarf galaxies, because there are relatively few such galaxies in the sky.

In addition, the surest way to detect a black hole is to wait for a rare tidal disruption event, when a black hole consumes a star approaching it.

This is exactly what happened in the dwarf galaxy SDSS J152120.07+140410.5, located 850 million light-years from Earth.

The local black hole eluded the attention of astronomers for a long time, until one of the stars surrounding it was swallowed up.

This caused a powerful burst of radiation that eclipsed the light of the galaxy itself, and it was this that was recorded by terrestrial telescopes.

In addition to the discovery of a new extraterrestrial object, called AT 2020neh, the death of a star allowed astronomers to determine the mass of a black hole.

Unlike supermassive black holes, whose mass is millions or even billions of times greater than the Sun (for reference, the mass of our star is more than 300 thousand times the mass of the Earth), black holes of dwarf galaxies are much smaller.

By measuring the flare caused by the destruction of the star, scientists were able to roughly estimate the mass of AT 2020neh: it turned out to be “only” a hundred times larger than the sun.

The researchers suggest that billions of years ago, during the early universe, the cosmos was full of dwarf galaxies with equally small black holes.

Over time, these galaxies collided, merging and absorbing each other, which eventually led to the appearance of large modern galaxies.

Perhaps, by observing small black holes that have survived to this day, sooner or later astronomers will be able to fix the collision of two dwarf galaxies and confirm or refute their theories about the origin of supermassive black holes – one of the most mysterious objects in our Universe.


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