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Beyond Earthly Skies

Black Holes on the Outskirts

31 May 2013, 01:00 UTC
Black Holes on the Outskirts Pearson Education Inc
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Figure 1: An illustration of the Milky Way with the galactic halo and Sun’s position indicated. The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy measuring over 100,000 light-years across and contains a few hundred billion stars. Credit: Pearson Education Inc.A study done by Rashkov & Madau (2013) show that there may be as many as 2000 to as few as 70 intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) lingering in the halo of the Milky Way. Unlike the supermassive black hole (~ 4 million solar-mass) that sits in the heart of the Milky Way, IMBHs have masses ranging from a few 100 to a few 100,000 solar-mass. These IMBHs were once surrounded by subhalos of stars and matter, which were the subgalactic building blocks of present-day massive galaxies. When these subhalos merged in the past to form the present-day Milky Way, a relic population of IMBHs is left behind in the Milky Way’s halo.The relic population of IMBHs can be divided into two main subpopulations - “naked” IMBHs and “clothed” IMBHs. “Naked” IMBHs dominate in the inner region of the Milky Way’s halo, but become increasingly rarer at larger distances where “clothed” IMBHs dominate. This is consistant with the fact that subhalos orbiting ...

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