In yet another mammoth surprise thrown up by this infinite mind boggling but truly mysterious universe of ours, a super massive giant black hole was discovered by scientists very recently hiding away in one obscure corner of what could be termed as a cosmic backwater bang in the centre of a galaxy named NGC 1600.
If you can imagine the empire state building tucked away in some little village in the heart of virgin Africa then that’s the latest black hole for you. And that’s not all!!! If you thought the sun was a big mass of fire, the sun would be a small little marble against this monster which is 17 billion times larger than the mass of our sun. Now that’s BIG for you, but who knows, in terms of our wonderful universe we may yet discover celestial objects even larger than that.
1. The Universe Has Thrown Up A New Monster! Surprise! Surprise!!
Now if you’re wondering where exactly is NGC1600? This is a distant but sparely populated galaxy existing in the constellation Eridanus, 200 million light years away from the Earth. What’s surprising for almost every astronomer is how come a huge black hole ended up in a distant and small galaxy when till date they were known to exist in denser galactic clusters. It’s the cosmic universe’ way of telling us, Surprise!! Surprise!!
And rightly so because it is now puzzling scientists like Chung Pei Ma a scientific author at the university of Berkley. Incidentally she is also the head of the intensive survey ‘MASSIVE” a project to detect unknown black holes and distant galaxies in the universe.
2. A Giant Black Hole In Obscurity How Unusual Feels Scientists!!
According to Ma, The initial reaction on spotting the giant black hole was not surprising because they believed it to be of average size. Moreover it was so far away it was like looking at a hurricane from a vast distance. But!!! As data from radio telescopes like NASA’s Hubble space telescope began filtering in, realization began to dawn on all scientists involved that they had found something huge. They had actually found a monster black hole existing in obscurity where this could well change theories of the existence of black holes and the nature of the universe itself.
Data pertaining to the sphere of the super massive giant black hole was recorded by twin telescopes in Hawaii and Chile which together make up the famous Gemini observatory.
3. How Do Black Holes Form, Collision or Cannibalism?
Till date the largest black hole ever found belonged to the coma cluster, part of 1000 identified galaxies. This monstrous lack hole was 21 billion times the mass of the sun. But what’s unique about the black hole in NGC1600 is that despite of being smaller than the one in the coma cluster it takes up 2% of the mass of NGC1600. This 2% converts to 10 times larger than the mass black holes use up of their respective galaxies. It means that the black hole of NGC1600 surpasses all theories and expectations of how large a black hole should exist in relation to the mass of its galaxy.
Why black holes grow to such large masses depends on the formation of galaxies, cosmic collisions and black hole cannibalism, yes a large black hole eating up another. Galaxies and black holes colliding together many form into one large mass too just like what is going to happen to our own milky way!!! Surprised!! yes but there’s no cause for concern except for those who live on earth 4 billion years from now when the milky way and Andromeda are all set to collide with each other!
4. The NGC1600 Black Hole! Eating Up Its Own Galaxy??
With such explanations attributed to black holes, what then is unique about NGC1600. The main factor puzzling scientists is that the existence of NGC1600 existing in such a sparse backwater location goes against theories expecting black holes to form from populated galaxies with enough cosmic material contributing to their formation. So where did the black hole in NGC1600 come from?? How was it created?? All these are the questions making scientists sit up and say HELLOO, here is something new about the Universe.
Some scientists feel that the black hole of NGC1600 could have been created through cosmic cannibalism. This could also be the main reason why the galaxy itself is so sparsely populated as the black hole could be actually consuming it from within. Hence the ghostly cosmic neighborhood. On the other hand, there is also speculation that the Black hole in NGC1600 could be a very old one which formed in the early years of the Universe which was mostly gas.
5. The Giant Black Hole Is a Big Mystery Says Puzzled Scientists
A third theory according to Ma is that either the phenomenon at NGC1600 is a current merging of two black holes, or else it could be the result of two black holes that has just merged recently. Another factor about NGC1600 is the absence of bright light being emitted from the black holes center which is generally the case with all black holes.
Scientists feel there is something very mysterious about NGC1600 as stars in the vicinity seem actually scared of wandering close to the black hole. This could be the only explanation of why no bright light is being emitted out of NGC1600
6. When Do Black Holes Stop Growing or Will They??
Chairman of Harvard’s astronomy department termed it “an exciting discovery” He felt that such black holes as NGC1600 could provide valuable data about cosmic conditions that impact the creation of black holes.
Ma and her team at MASSIVE feel that with further study of NGC1600 through Hubble, they could well be provided with data on sparsely populated galaxies and the possibility of even larger or similar black holes existing within them. If that does happen and if they do find likewise, then that is bound to be “the tip of the Iceberg”
The team is confident on finding out even more black holes but the biggest question on everyone lips is where and when do these monsters stop growing???