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Newly Discovered Black Hole Reveals a Whole New Class of Cosmic Objects

First Posted: Sep 21, 2015 10:29 AM EDT

Scientists may have discovered a new, mid-sized black hole, which is huge in the world of astronomy. Before now, researchers have only spotted black holes in two sizes: supermassive and tiny.

In this latest study, the researchers followed up on a similar finding using the same technique. The previous study accurately measured a black hole weighting 400 times the mass of the sun using data from NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite. In this study, the researchers used data from the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton satellite.

The scientists actually found evidence for a new, intermediate-mass black hole about 5,000 times the mass of the sun. That falls between small black holes, which range only a few dozen times the mass of our sun, and supermassive black holes, which have several billion times the sun's mass.

"This result provides support to the idea that black holes exist on all size scales," said Dheeraj Pasham, one of the researchers, in a news release. "When you describe something for the first time, there is always some doubt. Identifying a second candidate with a different instrument puts weight behind both findings and gives us confidence in our technique."

The findings reveal a bit more about black holes. Not only that, but scientists plan to continue to search through the cosmos for similar-sized black holes. That way, they can study these objects more in depth in order to understand how they differ from their larger and smaller cousins.

The findings are published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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