Supermassive black holes are viewed as frozen objects in galaxies. However, this is not always the case, and a new study published in the Astronomical Journal has just confirmed it.
The spiral galaxy J0437 + 2456 is located about 228 million light years from Earth and has a black hole in its center that is at least behaving. The object is all the more fascinating because, in addition to its phenomenal speed, it is 3 million times as massive as our sun.
A black hole that moves at more than 4,800 km per second
In their report, astronomer Dominic Pesce and his colleagues claim that the black hole in this distant galaxy moves relative to the surrounding material. Their observations showed a speed of 4810 km / s. The neutral hydrogen of J0437 + 2456 would recede at a speed of 4,910 kilometers per second. In addition, based on the movement of the stars, the researchers were able to calculate the speed of the galaxy’s inner region: 4,860 kilometers per second. Impressive, isn’t it ?!
Scientists had already raised the possibility that supermassive black holes could roam elsewhere in the universe. This theory is therefore more confirmed today. While several observations made in the past have made it possible to confirm the existence of these unusual cosmic monsters, this is the first time researchers have succeeded in identifying one, and in a clear way. However, astronomers at the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics still don’t know why the black hole is moving in galaxy J0437 + 2456.
A black hole that moves at more than 4,800 km per second. Image Credit: Shutterstock / RebelStuff
Several hypotheses to explain the phenomenon
Note that the galaxy was discovered using a technique called Very Long Base Interferometry (VLBI). This is an unexpected find, as the astronomers initially just wanted to know if the speed of the black holes is similar to that of the galaxies in which they are located. As part of the study, Pesce and his team examined ten distant galaxies and targeted those whose accretion disks contained water. All black holes of the observed galaxies appeared to be calm, except for one of J0437 + 2456.
To explain this rare phenomenon, several hypotheses have been put forward, in particular that of the fusion of two black holes. It can also be that the object is part of a binary system. Finally, the researchers believe that the behavior of the black hole could be the result of another galaxy merging with J0437 + 2456.