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Tags Current Affairs

Missing Supermassive black hole

Date: 10 January 2021 Tags: Space

Issue

A supermassive black hole, which is estimated to weigh up to 100 billion times the mass of the Sun, is seemingly missing.

 

Background

Scientists have been looking for the black hole using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope, and have so far found no evidence.

 

Details

  • The black hole is supposed to be located in Abell 2261, an enormous galaxy cluster that is about 2.7 billion light-years away from our planet.

  • Scientists have been using data gathered in 1999 and 2004 to look for the centre of the Abell galaxy, but have so far been unable to find its black hole.

  • Every large galaxy in the universe has a supermassive black hole at its centre, whose mass is millions or billions of times that of the Sun.

  • The black hole at the centre of our galaxy is called Sagittarius A*, and is 26,000 light-years away from Earth.

  • A reason for this could be that Abell’s black hole has been ejected from the centre of the galaxy. This may have happened because of the merging of two smaller galaxies to form Abell.

 

Recoiling of black hole

  • When two black holes merge, they release gravitational waves, which squeeze and stretch anything in their path.

  • During such a merger, when the amount of waves generated in one direction is stronger than another, the new big black hole can be sent away from the centre of the galaxy into the opposite direction. 

  • Scientists are yet to find definitive evidence for recoiling black holes, and are still to discover whether supermassive black holes can merge and release gravitational waves. 

  • Currently, only mergers of significantly smaller black holes have been verified. If the hypothesis turns out to be true, it would mean a major breakthrough in astronomy.

 

Light year

One light-year is the distance that a beam of light travels in one Earth year, which is 9 trillion km. On the scale of the Universe, astronomers measure the distance from stars and galaxies in the time it takes for light to reach us.

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