Astronomers have found a rare black hole, which is 100 million light-years from Earth, which may be the missing link to fully understanding how black holes have originated throughout the universe.
The black hole, which was discovered by the astronomers, is a rare medium-sized black hole known as NGC 2276-3c. They believe that it could be the ‘missing link’ when it comes to understanding of the evolution of the black hole.
A joint discovery, thanks to the European Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory run by NASA, the medium-sized black hole was identified by picking up radio waves from energetic sources throughout space.
NGC 2276-3c sits within the galaxy NGC 2276, which is around 100 million light years away from our planet.
Mar Mezcua, a post-doctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the lead author of the study, said, “In paleontology, the discovery of certain fossils can help scientists fill in the evolutionary gaps between different dinosaurs. We do the same thing in astronomy, but we often have to ‘dig’ up our discoveries in galaxies that are millions of light years away.”
The researchers believe that the mass of NGC 2766-3c can be used to establish a well-known relationship between how bright the source is in radio and X-rays, and the mass of the black hole. The X-ray and radio brightness were based on observations with Chandra and the EVN. They found that NGC 2276-3c is about 50,000 times the mass of the sun.
The researchers are uncertain about how NGC 2276-3c was formed. Some of them believe that the galaxy in which the black hole sits merged with another group of stars in the distant past. Star formation is seen in other areas of the galaxy, lending support to the theory of an ancient galactic merger. Between five and 15 solar masses of new stars are created each year in the distant galaxy.
They believe that by further analyzing NGC 2276-3c they will discover many previously unknown facts about black holes.