Oxymoron alert: Smallest massive black hole ever located in galaxy

Oxymoron alert: Smallest massive black hole ever located in galaxy

Scientists report finding a new, relatively tiny but still huge black hole.

Put your thinking caps on. Scientists have found a new black hole in space, and this one is remarkable for its brain-freezing description: it is the smallest large black hole ever seen.

As ABC Science in Australia reports, astronomers discovered the black hole in dwarf galaxy RGG 118, approximately 340 million light years away. Like most black holes, this entity is inherently massive, with a mass that is 50,000 times greater than our sun’s. However, it still remains the smallest black hole of its category ever discovered, being less than half the mass of the next smallest black hole.

Despite being 100 times less huge than our galaxy’s central black hole, this new black hole still holds significant interest to its discovers. Scientist Vivienne Baldassare of the University of Michigan explains, “We can use observations of the lightest supermassive black holes to better understand how black holes of different sizes grow.”

Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory and the 6.5 meter Clay telescope in Chile, the astronomers have already seen promising information about how the hot gases move and form around the black hole. This research is vital to understanding the structure and creation of black holes, which may lead to understanding how our universe was created.

“We have two main ideas for how these supermassive black holes are formed,” Baldassare’s colleague Elena Gallo says. “This black hole…serves as a proxy for those in the very early universe and ultimately may help us decide which of the two is right.”

The black hole has yet to be named.

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