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Researchers Might Have Discovered the Second Largest Black Hole In the Milky Way

CO-0.40-0.22 is a strange gas cloud with an elliptical shape.

(Mirror Daily, United States)According to a study published in Astrophysical Journal Letters researchers might have discovered the second largest black hole in the Milky Way. The investigation was conducted by researchers from Keio University in Japan and was led by professor Tomoharu Oka.

The team of astronomers used the radio telescope Nobeyama 45 and spotted a strange gas cloud known as CO-0.40-0.22 which is placed 200 light years away from the center of our galaxy. The finding was also confirmed by the ASTE Telescope in Chile.

After a detailed analysis of the gas cloud the research team has found out that it has an elliptical shape. It was clear that this is not a clear gas cloud because the gas which it contains has a very wide range of speeds. The cloud consists of two components: a compact component with a low density, but with a very wide velocity dispersion (100 km per second) and the other component which is dense and extends 10 light-years and has a narrow velocity dispersion.

Professor Oka explained that since the X-ray did not indicate any compact object, the only explanation would be a black hole. If the X-ray would have identified compact objects in the cloud it could have been a supernova.

The research team also conducted a simulation of gas clouds, using a strong gravity source. The investigators observed that at first the gas clouds were attracted by the source and as they got near to it their speed increased. As the gas clouds were the closes to the gravity source their speed reached the maximum intensity. Afterwards the clouds passed by the object and the speed decreased.

The scientists speculate that this could be an “intermediate mass” black hole. If this were true it would be the first time such an object would be detected. In addition it could lead to a new way of trying to find tens of millions of black holes which certain scientists suspect that there are in the Milky Way. It could also help understanding how the supermassive black hole from the center of the Milky Way came to birth.

The Milky Way Galaxy has around 100 million black holes and until now researchers have found only a dozen of them using X-ray observations. Using radio telescopes to analyze gas motion might prove to be a complementary way to find black holes.

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