(ORDO NEWS) — A rare treasure that could shed light on the evolution of black holes has been discovered in the Milky Way’s nearest galactic neighbor.
In a cluster of stars in the Andromeda galaxy, also known as M31, astronomers studied light changes to identify a black hole that has a mass nearly 100,000 times that of the Sun. This places it in an “intermediate mass” – both elusive and much needed by astronomers because of the questions they can’t answer.
“This is a big gap. This discovery fills that gap,” says astronomer and senior study author Anil Seth of the University of Utah.
Most black holes detected by astronomers using various methods fall into two mass ranges. There are black holes of stellar mass, about 100 times the mass of the Sun; and supermassive black holes, which start at a low distance of about a million times the mass of the Sun.
In the middle is the range classified as intermediate, and to say that the detection of these black holes is rare is to say nothing.
“I think it’s a pretty obvious case that we found one of these objects.”
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