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Rare Wandering Black Hole Spotted by NASA X-Ray Telescope

Oct 07, 2016 04:30 AM EDT
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Using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray observatory, a rare wandering black hole was spotted by a team of international astronomers.

Space.com defines black holes as objects of extreme density with such strong gravitational attraction that even light cannot escape from their grasp if it comes near enough.

While these fascinating objects are usually found at the centers of galaxies, the particular black hole caught by NASA's telescope is situated outside of its parent galaxy, toward the edge of the lenticular galaxy SDSS J141711.07+522540.8 (or, GJ1417+52 for short), which is located about 4.5 billion light years from Earth, Phys.org reported.

As reported by United Press International, the black hole tagged as XJ1417+52 is ten times more luminous and ten times more distant than the previous record-holder. Thus, the astronomers classified it as a "hyper-luminous X-ray source," which releases 10,000 and 100,000 times as much X-ray energy as stellar-sized black holes, and are "10 to 100 times more powerful than ultraluminous X-ray sources, or ULXs, NASA said.

However, its X-ray emissions aren't as bright as they used to be and has grown slowly dimmer through the years.

Daily Mail said the astronomers first spotted XJ1417+52 in 2000, during long observations of a special region called the Extended Groth Strip, but this is the first time they have seen the supermassive blackhole in a different position

The astronomers suggest it could have come from a small galaxy and fell into a larger one, causing the black hole to move.

The observation of the team proves the previously known theory that when two galaxies collide or merge, one of the two black holes can begin wandering as the stars, gas and dust from the second galaxy move through the first one.

The findings about the rare discovery are published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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