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A Compact Galaxy and its Supermassive Black Hole

18 Apr 2015, 22:00 UTC
A Compact Galaxy and its Supermassive Black Hole
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An ultra-compact dwarf (UCD) is a type of galaxy whose size and mass is between that of globular clusters and compact elliptical galaxies. Two mechanisms have been proposed to explain the formation of UCDs. In the first scenario, UCDs are actually the most massive globular clusters. In the second scenario, UCDs are either extremely compact galaxies that formed in dense dark matter halos or the leftover compact cores of more massive galaxies that have been tidally-stripped.M60-UCD1 is an extraordinary UCD located near the massive elliptical galaxy M60, about 54 million light years from Earth. It was discovered from imagery taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, with follow-up observations by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based telescopes. M60-UCD1 is the most luminous UCD known and also one of the most massive. What is remarkable about M60-UCD1 is its compactness. M60-UCD1 contains 200 million times the Sun’s mass. Half of this mass is concentrated within a central sphere only 80 light years in radius.Figure 1: An artist impression of the supermassive black hole located at the center of M60-UCD1. Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Coe, G. Bacon (STScI).Figure 2: An image taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope showing M60-UCD1 near the giant elliptical ...

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