As galaxy’s go, the one we live in, The Milky Way, is estimated at being 100,000 light years in width. For the uninitiated a light year is the distance light can travel in one year. Light being the fastest thing in our universe we know of, that means if one had a ship that could travel as fast as light, it would take them 100,000 years to transverse the Milky Way. Not all galaxies are the same as some are different sizes and make up different configurations but it’s often to find a black hole in the middle of a galaxy. Our galaxy has a black hole as big as 4.1 million of our Suns in power.
In the case of a new galaxy studied called M60-UCD1, a dwarf galaxy, is 300 light years in diameter. The surprising thing is the massive black hole found inside this galaxy that is five times the size of the black hole in the center of our galaxy. This suggests similar dwarf galaxies may hold supermassive black holes as well. Scientists speculate that such galaxies like M60-UCD1 may have been part of another galaxy that was stripped of its stars. Perhaps also there may have been collisions of some sort.
Anil Seth, Astronomer, and lead author of the international study of this dwarf galaxy had his findings published on September 18, 2014 in the journal “Nature”. He said in the piece, “We don’t know of any other way you could make a black hole so big in an object this small.”. His team of astronomers utilized the tools of the Hubble Space Telescope and in addition the Gemini North 8-meter optical and infrared telescope located on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea to examine M60-UCD1 and get the measurements on the black hole’s mass inside. The Hubble provided images that allowed for estimating the galaxy’s diameter as well as stellar density. The Gemini telescope measured the stellar motions as affected by the pull of the black hole’s gravitational field. This information is compiled to calculate the mass of the black hole.
The discovery of such a galaxy and a supermassive black hole like this allows scientists to postulate on other phenomena found in the universe. Looking at the raw data gathered by telescopes and putting together a team of professional astronomers allows for answering questions that have mystified science for centuries. This discovery opens the doors to new clues as to what we’ll find while exploring the heavens.