Scientists are now a step closer towards understanding how a supermassive black hole is born

They have found that the supermassive black hole lives in a galaxy known as Mirach's Ghost due to its proximity to the star Mirach.


A team of researchers led by Cardiff University scientists have now said that they are a step closer towards understanding how a supermassive black hole (SMBH) is born.

The results of the study have been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

According to a statement by Cardiff University, they have been able to do it using a new technique that enabled them to zoom in on one of the cosmic objects and reveal it in details.

A super massive black hole as captured by Hubble and ALMA telescope. Image credit: Cardiff University

A super massive black hole as captured by Hubble and ALMA telescope. Image credit: Cardiff University

The scientists are still unsure as to what gave rise to the SMBHs. They could have been born shortly after the big bang through 'direct collapse' or grew much later from 'seed' black holes that were formed following the death of massive stars.

As per the report, if the former method was true, SMBHs were born with extremely large masses and would have a fixed minimum size. However, if the latter were true, SMBHs would start out relatively small and grow over time by feeding on stars and gas clouds around them.

A report in Phys.org mentions that Cardiff-led team has revealed one of the lowest-mass SMBHs ever observed at the centre of a nearby galaxy, weighing less than one million times the mass of our sun.

According to the report the SMBH lives in a galaxy known as Mirach's Ghost due to its proximity to the star Mirach.

The findings were made using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a state-of-the-art telescope situated high on the Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean Andes.

Speaking about the discovery, Dr Tim Davis from Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy, said, The SMBH in Mirach's Ghost appears to have a mass within the range predicted by 'direct collapse' models."

He went on to add that it is currently active and swallowing gas, so some of the direct collapse models cannot be true. However, he elaborated, "This on its own is not enough to definitively tell the difference between the 'seed' picture and 'direct collapse' - we need to understand the statistics for that—but this is a massive step in the right direction."

The international team of researchers zoomed into the heart of a small nearby galaxy, called NGC404, allowing them to observe the swirling gas clouds that surrounded the SMBH at its centre.

They were able to resolve the gas clouds in the heart of the galaxy and reveal the true nature of the SMBH at the galaxy's centre.


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