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Supermassive Black Holes Spotted Hiding Near The Milky Way

First Posted: Jan 10, 2017 02:37 AM EST
Black Holes
Scientists discovered two supermassive black holes lurking in the nearby galaxies. (Image for representation only. Please see actual images of the two galaxies observed below.)
(Photo : NASA/CXC/MPE/S.Komossa/Getty Images)

NASA's NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) identified two gas-enshrouded supermassive black holes located near the Milky Way. The black holes are situated at the centers of the nearby galaxies.

The British scientist from the universities of Durham and Southampton examined the NuStar data. Ady Annuar, a graduate student at Durham University in the United Kingdom, said that these black holes are relatively close to the Milky Way, but they have remained hidden from them until now. She further said that they are like monsters hiding under one's bed. She added that their recent discoveries certainly call out the question of how many other supermassive black holes they are still missing, even in the nearby universe.

Strong black holes are concealed behind clouds of gas and dust. The scientists theorize that most large galaxies have supermassive black holes at their centers. On the other hand, these are concealed from view. Supermassive black holes have masses that are over 1 million Suns together. The gravity in black holes is so strong that it traps the light and alter space-time.

The team examined the black hole at the core of the galaxy known as NGC 1448, which is 38 million lightyears from the Milky Way. The second one is the galaxy IC 3639, which is 170 million lightyears away. These are classified as "active" galaxies that release strong levels of radiation.

Annuar focused on the galaxy NGC 1448 and found that it has a thick column of gas hiding the central black hole. NuSTAR also captured the X-ray emission from NGC 1448, and as with IC 3639, they found that a thick layer of gas and dust hide the active black hole from their view, according to Phys.org.

Daniel Stern, NuSTAR project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, said that it is exciting to use the power of NuSTAR to get important, unique information on these space beasts, even in the cosmic backyard where they can be studied in detail. 

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