I’m sure you’ve heard it by now. It’s taken social media by assault. If you haven’t, well, let’s talk about the tiny supermassive black hole’s antithesis. It may seem like a contradiction of terms: tiny, supermassive. But this new discovery sets a new record low for the size of such a space object.
As you may already know, black holes are really big points in space with an insane gravitational pull. They are divided into two types: ordinary and supermassive. Supermassive black holes are found at the center of galaxies and are, as their name suggests, incomprehensibly big. To get a sense of scale, our sun is just a tiny spot compared to the supermassive black hole that sits at the center of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
The gravity around black holes is so strong, it can bend light. That’s why they are black. That’s usually also what gives galaxies their shape.
One of the biggest supermassive black holes ever found has been uncovered just last month in the galaxy CID-947. That one was 7 billion times the mass of our sun. That should give you a sense of perspective. Compared to that one, the black hole at the center of our own galaxy is just a small fraction of the one in CID-947.
Now, this newest discovery, found in the dwarf galaxy RGG 118 is just 50,000 times the mass of our sun. The Milky Way’s massive drain at its center is 100 times bigger than this one. How can such a small supermassive black hole exist? Well, scientists are as baffled as we are. But the discovery, nonetheless, is a very important one, although Vivienne Baldassare, one of the scientists behind it, says that it may seem a contradiction of terms.
The fact is, we know very little about how our own galaxy looked in the early stages of the Universe. How did it form? How fast did it grow? Was it ever as small as RGG 118?
Researching this new find could provide answers to all the questions above and more. It could shed light on how the oldest of galaxies have been formed, some which are older than 13 billion years. This is because RGG 118, scientists speculate, has never encountered other clusters of stars, like most galaxies have. Therefore, this one may still be in its early stages of development. As galaxies grow, the rate at which they gobble up matter slows down. It’s every interesting for us to look at one of these very young, and very hungry specimens.
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