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Beyond Earthly Skies

Capturing an Ultra-Massive Black Hole

24 Feb 2013, 01:20 UTC
Capturing an Ultra-Massive Black Hole
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Ultra-massive black holes (UMBH) are known to exist in the cores of giant elliptical galaxies. These black holes have masses exceeding 10 billion times the mass of our Sun. Located approximately 220 million light years from the Milky Way, a galaxy known as NGC 1277 is known to harbour an unusually massive black hole with 17 billion times the mass of our Sun. This is odd because the galaxy NGC 1277 is far too small to be hosting a black hole with such an enormous mass. Typical supermassive black holes do not exceed 0.1 percent of the mass of their host galaxies but the mass of the black hole in NGC 1277 is equivalent to 14 percent of the total stellar mass of the galaxy. NGC 1277 is a modest sized lenticular galaxy that is a member of the Perseus Cluster of galaxies.Figure: The Perseus Cluster of galaxies.One possible scenario for the origin of the UMBH in the heart of NGC 1277 is that it did not form at where it currently resides. Instead, such an UMBH is expected to form during the merger of two giant elliptical galaxies, with each galaxy having its own supermassive black hole. Following the ...

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