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article imageAstronomers find massive black hole is too big for its galaxy

By Caroline Leopold     Jul 11, 2015 in Science
Astronomers have spotted an enormous black hole that grew much faster than its host galaxy. The black hole has the mass of nearly 7 billion suns.
Astronomers made the unexpected discovery while studying the growth of black holes across cosmic time.
The black hole, found in the galaxy CID-947, is among the most massive black holes ever discovered. It has the mass of nearly 7 billion suns.
C. Megan Urry, Yale professor of Astrophysics and co-researcher was quoted in a statement to the Yale News:
“Our survey was designed to observe the average objects, not the exotic ones, This project specifically targeted moderate black holes that inhabit typical galaxies today. It was quite a shock to see such a ginormous black hole in such a deep field.”
The discovery runs counter to most observations about black holes, which are massive areas of space with extraordinarily strong gravity that can pull in anything — even light. In most cases, black holes and their host galaxies expand at the same rate.
The mass of the galaxy that contained the super-sized black hole was what surprised the research team the most. “The measurements correspond to the mass of a typical galaxy,” said lead researcher Benny Trakhtenbrot at ETH Zurich’s Institute for Astronomy. “We therefore have a gigantic black hole within a normal-size galaxy.”
"The black hole has roughly one-tenth of the mass of the host," Trakhtenbrot told "The black hole is massive compared with the normal host galaxy."
The result was so surprising that the astronomers couldn't believe their own calculations. The team had invited outside experts to verify their results.
Black holes are among the most fascinating and bizarre objects in space that sound like science fiction, but are real.
Albert Einstein first predicted black holes in 1916 with his general theory of relativity. The term "black hole" was coined in 1967 by American astronomer John Wheeler, and the first one was discovered in 1971.
The international team included astronomers from Yale University, ETH Zurich, the Max-Planck Institute in Germany, Harvard University, the University of Hawaii, INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, and Oxford University.
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