Perhaps the most valuable lesson that the Universe has taught us all is never to consider that we know all about it. Our physical reality extends for at least 96 billion light-years in diameter, and black holes represent by far the most mysterious known cosmic events. These solar system destroyers are even defying the laws of physics themselves.
However, even for a black hole, things can get weirder. A new discovery proves it, and it belongs to an international team of astronomers that had been working with the Virgo Collaboration and the Laser Interferometry Gravitational Wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration (LSC).
World premiere: intermediate-mass black hole found
Black holes are normally distributed in two sizes – stellar black holes that are born after stars die and implode, and supermassive black holes. While the first category of black holes has a relatively low mass, the supermassive black holes can have a mass range of billion times the one of our Sun. The newfound intermediate-mass black hole known as HLX-1 is somewhere between the two other categories mentioned earlier.
By observing the gravitational waves that were generated, scientists were able to locate the new intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH). The cosmic objects have a mass that’s 142 times the one of our local star. Dr. Karan Jani, who is a Vanderbilt University research assistant professor, declared:
“We were able to confirm that this came from a collision of two black holes,
“Both of those are extremely massive; something that we know that stars cannot make.”
Lead author Sean Farrell from the University of Leicester declared:
“While it is already known that stellar-mass black holes are the remnants of massive stars, the formation mechanisms of supermassive black holes are still unknown. The identification of HLX-1 is therefore an important step towards a better understanding of the formation of the supermassive black holes that exist at the center of the Milky Way and other galaxies.”
Oddly enough, black holes can even have crucial roles in the existence of galaxies themselves. Sagittarius A proves it, the supermassive black hole from the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Scientists believe that all of the galaxy’s stars are orbiting the galactic core. The supermassive black hole practically molds the galaxy’s shape.