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Astronomers Determine Mass of Small Black Hole at Center of Nearby Galaxy

12 Jun 2019, 06:50 UTC
Astronomers Determine Mass of Small Black Hole at Center of Nearby Galaxy
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If astronomers want to learn about how supermassive black holes form, they have to start small--really small, astronomically speaking. In fact, a team including University of Michigan astronomer Elena Gallo has discovered that a black hole at the center of a nearby dwarf galaxy, called NGC 4395, is about 40 times smaller than previously thought. Their findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.Currently, astronomers believe that supermassive black holes sit at the center of every galaxy as massive as or larger than the Milky Way. But they're curious about black holes in smaller galaxies such as NGC 4395 as well. Knowing the mass of the black hole at the center of NGC 4395--and being able to measure it accurately--can help astronomers apply these techniques to other black holes."The question remains open for small or dwarf galaxies: Do these galaxies have black holes, and if they do, do they scale the same way as supermassive black holes?" Gallo said. "Answering these questions might help us understand the very mechanism through which these monster black holes were assembled when the universe was in its infancy."To determine the mass of NGC's black hole, Gallo and her fellow researchers employed reverberation mapping. This ...

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