A group of astronomers at Keele University and the University of Central Lancashire have just published their findings on a recently discovered galaxy with an “impossibly large” black hole. These findings were released to the public in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society detailing how the size itself, according to these scientists, is far larger than possible when compared to the mass of the galaxy surrounding it.
SAGE0536AGN is a galaxy first discovered with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and is thought to be 9 billion years old. The confirmed findings of a massive black hole in this galaxy have created an incredibly bright object made from the accretion of gas, what is known as an active galactic nucleus (AGN). Due to the black hole’s immense gravitational field, the gas is accelerated to high velocities, causing the strong emission of light.
With the use of the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) in Karoo, South Africa, the team observed an emission of hydrogen that suggested the presence of a superbly strong black hole. The data from these observations were used to calculate the mass of the black hole and the results were very surprising. According to the astronomers, the size of the black hole is 30 times larger than it should be when compared to the size of the galaxy it is inhabiting.
Ordinarily, the growth of a black hole would be around the same rate as the growth of the galaxy, but in SAGE0536AGN it appears like the black hole is growing at a much faster rate. Another explanation would be that the galaxy itself has stopped its growth, which would explain the unusual size of the black hole. The scientists are looking forward to discovering other things about SAGE0536AGN that might explain this oddball occurrence. Only time will tell whether SAGE0536AGN will go down as the first in a new class of galaxies or as a singular phenomenon that will forever remain a mystery.