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Finding the Happy Medium of Black Holes

10 Aug 2018, 16:10 UTC
Finding the Happy Medium of Black Holes
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Scientists have taken major steps in their hunt to find black holes that are neither very small nor extremely large. Finding these elusive intermediate-mass black holes could help astronomers better understand what the "seeds" for the largest black holes in the early Universe were.The new research comes from two separate studies, each using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes.Black holes that contain between about one hundred and several hundred thousand times the mass of the Sun are called "intermediate mass" black holes, or IMBHs. This is because their mass places them in between the well-documented and frequently-studied "stellar mass" black holes on one end of the mass scale and the "supermassive black holes" found in the central regions of massive galaxies on the other.While several tantalizing possible IMBHs have been reported in recent years, astronomers are still trying to determine how common they are and what their properties teach us about the formation of the first supermassive black holes.One team of researchers used a large campaign called the Chandra COSMOS-Legacy survey to study dwarf galaxies, which contain less than one percent the amount of mass in stars as our Milky Way does. (COSMOS is an abbreviation of ...

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