According to RT, this discovery, which was presented at a virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Monday, represents one of the first cases in which scientists were able to observe a “blocked” black hole in a galaxy with only hundreds of millions of stars. And this particular dwarf galaxy is called Mrk 462.
Also, using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, researchers from Dartmouth College studied eight dwarf galaxies believed to contain an active supermassive black hole by searching for the extremely bright, high-energy radiation emitted by the heat from the accretion (growth) process.
The X-ray signature of ‘feeding’ a black hole was identified only at Mrk 462. The ‘unusually large intensity’ of its high-energy radiation and other factors indicate that this particular black hole was ‘strongly obscured’ by gas and dust clouds.
“Because buried black holes are more difficult to detect than exposed ones, finding this example could mean that there are many dwarf galaxies with similar black holes,” co-researcher Ryan Hickox said in a NASA statement.
The discovery lends credence to theories that some supermassive black holes grow rapidly from smaller-mass ‘stellar seeds’ rather than really large in the early universe. Finding more dwarf galaxies with supermassive black holes will also bolster this idea.
The researchers note that such obscured black holes may be ‘missing’ from previous surveys, which may indicate the presence of a much larger number of massive black holes in dwarf galaxies. These ‘monstrous black holes’ are ‘difficult to find’ – researcher Jack Parker said – adding that those in Mrk 462 are ‘among the smallest’ of their kind.
“We cannot draw strong conclusions from a single example, but this result should encourage more comprehensive searches for black holes buried in dwarf galaxies,” Parker said.
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