London: A student astronomer has claimed to
have pinpointed one of the most dramatic phenomenons of the
universe -- a "super-massive" black hole that has been flung
out of a distant galaxy at high speed.
The giant black hole, scientists believe, is more than a
billion times the mass of the sun and flying at a speed of
670,000 miles per hour through space.
The discovery was made by Marianne Heida, a student at
Utrecht University in the Netherlands, while working with
experts at the Dutch space research institute SRON as part of
a final-year project.
While cataloguing thousands of sources of X-rays in
space, she noticed a bright spot which appeared to be
radically out of place -- on the edge of a galaxy rather than
The object, more than half a billion light years away,
was so intense such that scientists believe it is likely to be
a black hole, the Telegraph reported.
Every galaxy, including our own Milky Way, is thought to
contain a super-massive black hole -- the largest type of
black holes which are formed when two smaller black holes
crash together and merge. The new black hole is then sent
shooting away at high speed.
The material that falls into black holes heats up
dramatically on its final journey and often means that black
holes are strong X-ray sources. This enables astronomers to
pick them out by looking for X-rays.
"If this is confirmed it is a hugely exciting discovery,"
said Dr Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society.
"Just imagine the kind of event that could throw perhaps
a thousand million suns of matter out of a galaxy."
Her project, published in the journal Monthly Notices of
the Royal Astronomical Society, is thought to be the first
time that the phenomenon has been captured.