The stellar phenomenon was discovered by astronomers at the University of Melbourne about three billion light-years away, thanks to a technique that includes detection of light emitted by a gamma-ray burst as it bends on its way to Earth. Astronomers say that the size of a “intermediate black hole” is located between a small black hole A supernova, a supermassive black hole in the heart of the galaxy.
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According to the British newspaper the Daily Mail, this may be “ancient remnants” dating back to the beginnings of the universe before the formation of the first stars and galaxies, suggests co-author Professor Eric Thrin of Monash University.
These “medium black holes” may be the seeds that, over time, led to the supermassive black holes that live in the heart of every known galaxy today.
While this black hole is 3 billion light-years away, researchers estimate that there are about 46,000 medium-mass black holes near the Milky Way.
The team explained that the discovery of this new type of black hole, which had been predicted long ago, through the lens of gravity, fills the “missing link” in our understanding of the universe.
And it was called a “Goldilocks” black hole, because it is located in the middle of all known types of black holes, neither too big nor too small.
A typical black hole resulting from the explosion of a massive star at the end of its life would be 10 times the mass of the sun.
Lead author and doctoral student at the University of Melbourne, James Paynter, said the latest discovery sheds new light on how supermassive black holes form.
He said: “While we know that these supermassive black holes lie in the nuclei of most, if not all, galaxies, we do not understand how these giant planets could grow very large in the age of the universe.”
The new black hole was found by detecting a gamma-ray burst with a gravitational lens and a flash of half a second of high-energy light.
This light was emitted by a pair of merging stars, and was observed to have a clear “resonance” resulting from a medium-mass black hole.
The black hole bends the light path from the gamma-ray burst on its way to Earth, so that astronomers see the same flash twice.
A powerful program has been developed to discover black holes caused by gravitational waves, to prove that the two flashes are images of the same body.
Professor Rachel Webster, co-author of the paper and a gravitational lens pioneer from the University of Melbourne, said the findings have the potential to help scientists make greater strides in understanding the evolution of the universe.
“By using the new black hole filter, we can estimate the total number of these objects in the universe. We expected this might be possible 30 years ago, and it is exciting to discover a strong example,” Webster said.
Researchers estimate that about 46,000 medium-mass black holes exist near our Milky Way.
It has long been believed that these clusters of midsize black holes are located inside the cores of globular clusters.
A globular cluster of stars tightly bound by gravity is known as a globular cluster of stars found in disk and spiral galaxies.
M87, which is 1,000 times older than the Milky Way, is believed to contain as many as 13,000 globular clusters.
Details of the discovery have been published in Nature Astronomy.
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