A supermassive black hole 660 million times larger than the sun was discovered by astronomers in May this year. The fantastic discovery by researchers at University of California Irvine was phenomenal and extremely significant as one so large has never been recorded till date.
Researchers using sophisticated high resolution data acquired from ALMA or Atacama Large Millimeter Array space telescope in Chile observatory were ecstatic about the find that had been perplexing scientists for some time. The super massive black hole was found in the NGC 1332 a galaxy obviously far far away.
1 73 Million Light Years in a Galaxy Far Far Away
The black hole inside NGC 1332 at 73 million light years away was found to be 660 million times more massive as the Sun, and has a cloud of gas circling it at roughly 1.8 million kilometers per hour (about 1.1 million miles per hour).
Measuring the speed of this spin is crucial – knowing how fast the dense, cold clouds orbiting the black hole are spinning can tell you a lot about the black hole’s mass in the centre, based on its gravitational pull. And while these clouds emit no light for astronomers to detect, they glow brightly at wavelengths that ALMA can pick up.
2 A First for The ALMA Telescope in Chile
According to one of the researchers Aaron Barth at UCI”This is the first time that ALMA has probed the orbital motion of cold molecular gas well inside the gravitational sphere of influence of a super massive black hole. We are directly viewing the region where the cold gas is responding to the black hole’s gravitational pull.”
NGC 1332 is an elliptical galaxy 73 million light years away from Earth. Found in the southern sky, it is one among several galaxies that contain such black holes which are galactic disks of cold molecular gas and dust orbiting their galaxies.
3 Measured and Discovered By the Doppler Effect
In order to find the Black hole, Astronomers used the special Doppler Effect to map gases known to surround black holes. The Doppler Effect maps the changes of different frequencies of sound, light or any other existing waves, In the case of the super massive black hole.
Astronomers studied frequencies of radio waves emitted from the carbon monoxide molecules presented in the gas cloud. Such emissions are bright enough for Alma to detect. The results of the discovery were published in the Astrophysical Journal of letters. Watch the incredible video.