University of Maryland astronomy graduate student Dheeraj Pasham and his two other colleagues made the measurements of the rare black hole which they had found hiding in the well-known galaxy of M82, which is some 12 million light years away (light takes 12 million years to travel this distance) from Earth. The findings were published online on August 17 in the journal Nature.
And if you don’t know what exactly is a black hole, then know this. When stars much more massive (fifty to hundred times more massive) than our sun run out of gas, start to collapse under its own gravity and become a tremendously dense ‘dead star’ and has a gravitational force, so strong that nothing in this world can manage to escape from it. Not even light can escape from it, which is why the ‘dead star’ looks so black (as if it were a hole) in the first place.
When asked about the significance of the discovery, let us what they have to say about it. “Objects in this range are the least expected of all black holes,” says Richard Mushotzky UMD astronomy professor and a co-author. “Astronomers have been asking — do these objects exist or do they not exist? What are their properties? Until now we have not had the data to answer these questions.” While the intermediate-mass black hole that the team studied is not the first one measured, it is the first one so precisely measured, Mushotzky says, “establishing it as a compelling example of this class of black holes.”
Pasham, who will begin a post-doctoral research position at Nasa Goddard in late August, has identified six potential intermediate-mass black holes that Nasa’s to-be launched X-ray telescope NICER might explore.
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