Washington: Scientists have recently discovered an intermediate-sized black hole for the very first time in the nearby galaxy Messier 82.
Team of astronomers by University of Maryland has succeeded in accurately measuring and thus confirming the existence of a black hole about 400 times the mass of our sun in a galaxy 12 million light years from Earth.
Beginning in 1999 a NASA satellite telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, detected X-rays in Messier 82 from a bright object prosaically dubbed M82 X-1. Astronomers, including Richard Mushotzky, a UMD astronomy professor and co-author Tod Strohmayer of NASA`s Goddard Space Flight Center, suspected for about a decade that the object was an intermediate-mass black hole, but estimates of its mass were not definitive enough to confirm that.
Between 2004 and 2010 NASA`s Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite telescope observed M82 X-1 about 800 times, recording individual x-ray particles emitted by the object. It was found among the material circling the suspected black hole; two repeating flares of light were spotted. The flares showed a rhythmic pattern of light pulses, one occurring 5.1 times per second and the other 3.3 times per second or a ratio of 3:2.
Dheeraj Pasham, astronomy graduate student from University of Maryland, used the oscillations to estimate that M82 X-1 was 428 times the mass of the sun, give or take 105 solar masses; however, he did not proposed an explanation for how this class of black holes formed.
The study is published online in the journal Nature.