A Rare 'Stripped Nuclei' Black Hole Is Lurking in the Andromeda Galaxy

And, at first, it fooled astronomers.
Loukia Papadopoulos

In May of 2021, we brought you the news that astronomers at the Australian National University had discovered the fastest-growing black hole ever spotted. It was also reported that the black hole was devouring masses equivalent to Earth's sun every two days.

Then, in September of 2021, we reported on the discovery of a hungry black hole whose observations could help reveal the origins of the elusive celestial objects. The phenomenon at the time was called a "tidal disruption event" and was recorded by means of the enormous burst of radiation that emanated from its location.

Now, astronomers have spotted a never-before-seen black hole in the Andromeda galaxy, according to The IndependentThe object has been revealed to be one of the very rare "intermediate-mass black holes." 

Senior author Anil Seth, who is the associate professor of astronomy at the University of Utah and co-author of the study, said: “We have very good detections of the biggest, stellar-mass black holes up to 100 times the size of our sun, and supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies that are millions of times the size of our sun, but there aren’t any measurements of black between these. That’s a large gap,” and added: “This discovery fills the gap.”

So why had this unique celestial object not been spotted before? Well, because it was hiding within the star cluster B023-G078. Initial observations of the object made astronomers think it might be a simple cluster of stars.

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However, using further data from the Gemini Observatory and images from the Hubble Space Telescope, the scientists were able to determine that it was indeed a black hole referred to as a stripped nuclei. This event was described by the astronomers as a kind of dumping ground for a bunch of different elements like gas and star clusters.

The study is published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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