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'Nearly-Naked' Supermassive Black Hole Spotted by Astronomers

Nov 04, 2016 11:31 AM EDT

Black holes are mysterious spots in the middle of galaxies but astronomers found out that they can be even more fascinating. Researchers discovered some nearly naked black holes escaping from galaxy cores.

By using the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), astronomers managed to observe nearly naked supermassive black holes. These black holes are remains of galaxies that survived a cross over to a bigger galaxy; the passing of the small against the larger galaxy creates a nearly naked supermassive black hole to emerge at a speed of more than 2,000 miles per second.

The galaxies were observed as part of a galaxy cluster at about 2 billion light-years away. The encounter between two galaxies can sweep the smaller one of its stars and all its inhabitants even the gasses on it. After the encounter, only the naked black hole remains. Astronomers project that the nearly naked black holes are about 3,000 light-years across.

The astronomers were looking for supermassive black holes that are billions of times larger than the Sun. This is how the researchers discovered the existence of nearly naked black holes in the universe. This also reinforced the theory that larger galaxies continue to grow by consuming the smaller ones causing more supermassive black holes to exist.

"We were looking for orbiting pairs of supermassive black holes, with one offset from the center of a galaxy, as telltale evidence of a previous galaxy merger," James Condon of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory said in a statement. "Instead, we found this black hole fleeing from the larger galaxy and leaving a trail of debris behind it," Condon added.

Astronomers claim that the discovery is something scientists have never seen before. In order to perform the observation, astronomers used the VLBA to capture high-resolution images of 1,200 galaxies previously identified by other telescopes.

The nearly naked supermassive black holes are different from the typical ones because it leaves a trail of ionized gas behind and is speeding away from the center of a bigger galaxy. This led to astronomers' conclusion that the black holes are the remains of the encounter between small and large galaxies.


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