(ORDO NEWS) — Supermassive black holes are believed to lurk in the hearts of most, if not all, galaxies. For example, our Milky Way has one massive 4 million Suns, and M87, the only black hole seen directly, reaches a whopping 2.4 billion solar masses.
The large galaxy at the core of Abell 2261, about 2.7 billion light-years from Earth, should have an even larger central black hole – a light-absorbing monster that weighs between 3 and 100 billion suns, astronomers estimate according to the galaxy’s mass. But until now, the exotic object has not been discovered.
Such missing black holes are purely hypothetical creatures. To date, none have been found. “It is unknown if supermassive black holes will get close enough to each other to cause gravitational waves and merge; So far, astronomers have only confirmed mergers of much smaller black holes, ”NASA officials wrote in a statement about the new study.
“Finding the missing supermassive black holes will give courage to scientists using and developing observatories to search for gravitational waves from supermassive black hole mergers,” they added.
According to the researchers, the central galaxy Abell 2261 is a good place to hunt for such a creature, as it has several possible signs of a merger. Observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and Subaru Ground-based Telescope show that its core, the region with the highest stellar density, is much larger than expected for a galaxy of this size. And the densest stellar spot is located about 2,000 light years from the center of the galaxy – “strikingly far”, as the representatives of NASA wrote.
In a new study, a team led by Kayhan Gultekin of the University of Michigan found that the densest concentrations of hot gas were not found in the central regions of the galaxy. But the Chandra data did not reveal any significant sources of X-rays either in the galactic core or in large clusters of stars in the distance. Thus, the mystery of the missing supermassive black hole remains.
This puzzle could be solved by Hubble’s successor, the large and powerful James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in October 2021.
If James Webb does not notice a black hole in the heart of the galaxy or in one of its large star clusters, then “the best explanation would be that the black hole bounced far from the center of the galaxy,” – according to representatives of NASA.
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