Astronomers in Japan have made a remarkable discovery of a black hole in our Milky Way galaxy.
They are massive, incredibly elusive, and they may hold the secrets of the evolution of the universe itself — which explains why scientists are so keen to learn more about them.
They’re intermediate-mass black holes, and they are the super rare link between stellar-mass black holes, when a massive star collapses into a black hole, and the supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies.
Astronomers at Keio University in Japan have discovered a gas cloud 200 light years from the center of the Milky Way that could shroud one of these intermediate-mass black holes. The scientists used two radio telescopes in Japan and Chile to observe it, as we reported recently. The gas cloud, named CO-0.40-0.22, has an elliptical shape and has properties that suggest it may contain black holes. There are an estimated 100 million black holes in the Milky Way, although only dozens have been observed.
If this is an IMBH, it could help scientists further understand the mysterious transition of a black hole from a small stellar-mass black hole to a supermassive black holes, which is right now largely unknown. It could help us understand how the Milky Way galaxy evolved, and how other galaxies eventually form into their current states over billions of years.
“These results open a new way to search for black holes with radio telescopes,” a news from the university stated. “Recent observations have revealed that there are a number of wide-velocity-dispersion compact clouds similar to CO-0.40-0.22. The team proposes that some of those clouds might contain black holes. A study suggested that there are 100 million black holes in the Milky Way Galaxy, but X-ray observations have only found dozens so far. Most of the black holes may be “dark” and very difficult to see directly at any wavelength.”