Scientists have discovered that supermassive black holes are outgrowing their own galaxies, and they are not sure why.
A team of researchers was surprised to discover that the supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies appear to be outgrowing the galaxies they host. Scientists had assumed that such black holes grew in tandem with their galaxy, but this new research, made possible with NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, suggests that that is not the case at all.
The gigantic black holes at the center of each galaxy has been a subject of mystery and wonder for scientists, who believe that they hold the keys to the secrets of the universe itself. They can be billions or even trillions of times bigger than our own sun, gobbling up huge amounts of matter and energy.
Scientists have found that these black holes are bigger than they should be if they were simply growing along with their galaxy. They found this out by combining data from telescopes like Chandra as well as Hubble and others. They studied black holes in 72 galaxies about 3.5 billion light years from our Earth, and compared their properties to find that they were about 10 times larger than estimates that tied their mass to the mass of their galaxies.
“We are trying to reconstruct a race that started billions of years ago,” said Guang Yang of Penn State who led one of the two studies. “We are using extraordinary data taken from different telescopes to figure out how this cosmic competition unfolded.”