A Japanese team of researchers stumbled upon evidence suggesting the possibility of another black hole in the middle of the Milky Way
Black holes have always mystified astronomers because of their unobservable nature. The gravitational effects exhibited by a black hole are so strong that even light cannot escape its pull. However, they were always suspected to contain information that could help scientists gain a better understanding of the universe and how it works. Owing to recent technological developments, astronomers can now detect the presence of a black hole, despite the absence of a visible manifestation. This decade has seen astronomers register multiple black hole detections, some of them even in our own galaxy.
The latest addition to this list of detections came from a Japanese team who believe they have spotted a rare type of a black hole lying in the center of the Milky Way. Till now black holes were believed to be of two size classes; supermassive or fairly small. The newly detected black hole however, falls between the two extremes and researchers have classified it under a new category, Intermediate Mass Black Holes (IMBHs). A black hole much heavier than the sun was spotted in the same region in 2017.
Published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters in January, 2019, the detection was made possible by observing a cloud of gas, which exhibited strange movement. They utilized the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), to conclude that the gas was moving around the circumference of a large invisible gravitational anomaly.
“Detailed kinematic analyses revealed that an enormous mass, 30,000 times that of the Sun, was concentrated in a region much smaller than our solar system, this and the lack of any observed object at that location strongly suggests an intermediate-mass black hole. By analyzing other anomalous clouds, we hope to expose other quiet black holes” believes Shunya Takekawa, lead researcher on the study. The team believes the findings will help understand black hole mergers and their behavioral characteristics.