Astronomers have found a massive black hole in a distant galaxy, in a discovery that challenges notions about how galaxies evolve.
The black hole was found at the centre of galaxy NGC 1277. Though NGC 1277 has a diameter only one-quarter the size of the Milky Way, the black hole has a mass equal to that of approximately 17 billion of our suns, says study co-author Remco van den Bosch.
Scientists used data form the Hubble Space Telescope and the Hobby-Eberly Telescope in Fort Davis, Texas to make the discovery.
A report from Nature says that it is thought that galaxies and black holes grow together, and it appears that this black hole kept growing, even as the galaxy stopped. “It is hard to explain this observation [of NGC 1277] in a picture where the black hole shuts off its own growth when it reaches a fixed fraction of the galaxy mass,” astronomer Jenny Greene told Nature. “Instead, this guy kept growing.”
The findings from van den Bosch and the team of U.S and German researchers were published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.