Massive black hole uncovered near the core of the Milky Way galaxy

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A massive black hole weighing 100,000 time more than our  sun has identified hiding in a gas cloud near the core of our galaxy.

September 4, 2017, The Guardian

An enormous black hole one hundred thousand times more massive than the sun has been found hiding in a toxic gas cloud wafting around near the heart of the Milky Way.

If the discovery is confirmed, the invisible behemoth will rank as the second largest black hole ever seen in the Milky Way after the supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A* that is anchored at the very centre of the galaxy.

Astronomers in Japan found evidence for the new object when they turned a powerful telescope in the Atacama desert in Chile towards the gas cloud in the hope of understanding the strange movement of its gases. Unlike those that make up other interstellar clouds, the gases in this cloud – including hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide – move at wildly different speeds.

Observations from the Alma telescope in Chile showed that molecules in the elliptical cloud, which is 200 light years from the centre of the Milky Way and 150 trillion kilometres wide, were being pulled around by immense gravitational forces. The most likely cause, according to computer models, was a black hole no more than 1.4 trillion km across.

The scientists’ suspicion that a black hole lay in the midst of the gas cloud received a boost when further observations picked up radio waves indicative of a black hole coming from the centre of the cloud, said Tomoharu Oka , an astronomer at Keio University in Tokyo. “This is the first detection of an intermediate-mass black hole candidate in the Milky Way galaxy,” he said.

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