Astrophysicists are looking for the second largest black hole closest to Earth

(ORDO NEWS) — Astronomers have long suspected that there might be a black hole at the center of the dwarf galaxy Leo I. New research by American scientists has shown that this is most likely true.

In addition, the probable mass of this black hole is three million times the mass of the Sun, which makes it the second largest supermassive black hole closest to Earth after Sagittarius A at the center of our Galaxy.

Scientists from the Harvard and Smithsonian Institutions (USA) have proposed a new way to observe a celestial body, which may be the second closest supermassive black hole to Earth. The object, whose mass exceeds three million solar masses, is located in the dwarf galaxy Leo I.

For the first time, the Leo I * object, located at the center of Leo I, was nominated for the role of a black hole at the end of 2021. Astronomers noticed that the stars pick up speed as they approached the center of the galaxy, and this indicated the presence of a black hole there.

It’s impossible to get a direct image of a black hole, as not even light can escape its event horizon, but the environment can be extremely bright when a lot of material gets into the accretion disk, heating up to enormous temperatures. But if a black hole does not accrete mass, it becomes impossible to detect with telescopes.

This is what happened with Leo I: this dwarf galaxy is practically devoid of gas available for accretion. However, scientists have speculated that a small amount of mass may still come from stars orbiting the black hole. Theoretically, they could provide the accretion rate needed to observe it.

On the surface of red giants, strong winds are usually present, which carry away part of their mass into the environment. The space around Leo I* seems to contain a fair amount of these ancient stars. The scientists plan to use the Chandra Space X-ray Observatory and the Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico.

If Leo I* really turns out to be a black hole, it would be the second closest supermassive black hole to Earth after the one at the center of our Galaxy. Surprisingly, the Milky Way is a thousand times more massive than Leo I, but the masses of black holes at their centers can be very similar.

This fact challenges what scientists know about the co-evolution of galaxies and their central supermassive black holes.

Since for decades, studies have shown that in the center of most massive galaxies there is a supermassive black hole, and the mass of the black hole should be a tenth of a percent of the total mass of the surrounding spheroid of stars.


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