Black holes are known for one thing above all else – their ability to consume anything, including light. Despite this fact, some very large black holes, the supermassive ones, can still be observed from Earth because of the bright lights spewing from them when they’re consuming a star. Plus, scientists believe that they discovered a new way to find black holes via gas clouds.
For the first time ever, scientists were able to find what they refer to as an intermediate mass black hole. Generally, this can’t really be accomplished, since black holes pretty much suck up everything around them, including light, stopping us from detecting them with our telescopes.
Supermassive black holes, however, tend to spend their existence consuming stars, planets, and all the intergalactic dust and gas they can find, heating them up so much, and even spewing out jets of superhot plasma so hot and bright that they can be observed from Earth.
This discovery comes from a Japanese team of researchers, led by Tomoharu Oka of Japan’s Keio University. The team used the Nobeyama 45-m telescope to look up close at a strange gas cloud moving at different speeds and acting unnatural.
CO-0.40-0.22, as the cloud is called, was detected by the Japanese team and inspected closely. This inspection revealed that the cloud had an elliptical shape, as well as a myriad of other scientific details.
Some of these details refer to the fact that the cloud was made up of two parts, a lower density one moving at varied, yet fast speeds, and a higher density one, spanning over 10 light years, with a slower speed. These factors were indicators of a black hole’s accretion disk.
With the help of their highly performant computers, the team was able to reveal that there is a huge source of gravity, about 1,000 times stronger than the Sun, present in the cloud.
This led the researchers to the conclusion that the object is a black hole of moderate size, and probably the second largest in our galaxy.
But those are only suppositions, as a black hole is the only currently known explanation for the gravitational force behind the gas cloud. It is the most logical explanation, however.
Even more important than the discovery of the second largest black hole in our galaxy is the discovery of a new way of detecting black holes.
Despite over 200 black holes being theorized to exist in the Milky Way, only 2 have been confirmed so far. This might just as well be a new, very important way of black hole detection.
Image source: Wikimedia