Wandering black hole found in distant galaxy
Astronomers have spotted a supermassive black hole floating in the outskirts of a newly merged galaxy.
Supermassive black holes, which can range from being hundreds of thousands to billions of times more massive than our sun, can usually be found at the center of a galaxy.
Sometimes though, when two galaxies collide and eventually merge, one of the two black holes can end up being displaced, causing it to ‘wander’ around the outside of the newly merged galaxy.
The uninspiringly named XJ1417+52 is one such black hole.
Situated 4.5 billion light years away, this extremely distant object is thought to have once been part of a relatively small galaxy which merged with a much larger lenticular galaxy named GJ1417+52.
“The location and brightness of the optical source in the Hubble image that may be associated with XJ1417+52 suggest that the black hole could have originally belonged to a small galaxy that plowed into the larger GJ1417+52 galaxy, stripping away most of the galaxy’s stars but leaving behind the black hole and its surrounding stars at the center of the small galaxy,” NASA said in a statement.
“If this idea is correct the surrounding stars are what is seen in the Hubble image.”