Monster black hole has outgrown its home galaxy, scientists say

A new study has revealed that there is a supermassive black hole, called CID-947, that is orders of magnitude larger than it should be with respect to its host galaxy.
By Aaron Sims | Jan 13, 2016
One of the largest black holes ever seen is believed to be nearly 11.7 billion years old, forming just two billion years after the Big Bang. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the black hole is massive too; it has a mass that is equivalent to about seven billion suns.

One of the study's co-authors, C. Megan Urry of Yale University, said that the discovery was quite unexpected. Using a survey designed to spot moderate black holes inhabiting typical galaxies, her team was surprised to find "such a ginormous black hole."

Lead author Benny Trakhtenbrot, an astrophysicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich said that given the mass of the host galaxy, the black hole was unbelievably big. The newly found black hole appears to have outgrown the galaxy in which it formed.

Typically, galaxies like the Milky Way have a supermassive black hole at their centers, with mass ranging from millions to billions of times that of our sun. They normally account for about one half of a percent of the total mass of their galaxy. The newly discovered black hole, CID-947, however, makes up a much larger fraction of the galaxy's total mass.

Trakhtenbrot told reporters that this black hole is nearly one-tenth the mass of its host galaxy. CID-947 defies the notion that black holes and galaxies tend to grow in sync with each other. It's obvious that the black hole is growing at a much faster rate than its host galaxy.

What's even more peculiar is that researchers still noticed stars forming in the galaxy, even in the presence of such a massive black hole. "The black hole didn't affect the growth of the galaxy again, contrary to many common models and ideas in the field," Trakhtenbrot said. The black hole appears to be finished growing, while the galaxy continues to grow.

The findings can tell us a lot about the early universe they suggest that the universe was smaller, denser, and much more hospitable to black holes. The team of researchers will continue to scan the universe for more ancient supermassive black holes, in an attempt to learn more about how they formed.

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