Supermassive Black Hole Outgrew its Galaxy After the Big Bang

First Posted: Jul 10, 2015 07:41 AM EDT

Scientists have discovered a massive black hole that simply outgrew its galaxy. The super-sized black hole actually grew far faster than its host galaxy, which may reveal a bit more about the evolution of these objects.

The new black hole actually formed in the early universe, about two billion years after the Big Bang. The scientists first spotted it during a project to map the growth of supermassive black holes across cosmic time.

"Our survey was designed to observe the average objects, not the exotic ones," said C. Megan Urry, one of the researchers, in a news release. "This project specifically targeted moderate black holes that inhabit typical galaxies today. It was quite a shock to see such a ginormous black hole in such a deep field."

The black hole is located in the galaxy CID-947, and is among the most massive black holes ever found. It measures nearly 7 billion solar masses. Yet the mass surrounding the galaxy is even more staggering. In fact, this mass suggested that the black hole was actually larger than the galaxy itself.

Most galaxies have a black hole at their center which holds millions to billions of solar masses. This latest study, though, challenges the idea of how galaxies grow in relation to black holes.

With that said, the galaxy is still growing. In fact, the galaxy could be a precursor of the most extreme, massive systems observed in today's local universe, such as the galaxy NGC 1277 in the Perseus constellation. With that said, the growth of the black hole still greatly anticipated the growth of the surrounding galaxy, which is contrary to what astronomers previously believed would be the case.

The findings are published in the journal Science.

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