Astronomer Dacheng Lin of the University of New Hampshire and his team got lucky. With the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASA’s Swift Satellite, and ESA’s XMM-Newton, they caught a murderous, medium-sized black hole, as reported by NASA Goddard.
By murderous, the scientists caress the intermediate-mass black hole when slurping stars. This type of black hole was more like a cameo, so far. Supposedly, it was the intermediate state of evolution of a black hole, between the smaller stellar black hole and the bigger supermassive black hole.
They had to exist, but there was no viable proof so far, so they were considered to be a missing link in the black holes’ evolution. Or, better said: in the scientific understanding of their evolution. They don’t miss any link when they evolve. But now, scientists can celebrate: they weren’t wrong.
The study on the medium-sized black hole
About 740 million light-years away, a flare of radiation in the center of a star cluster proved to be intermediate-mass black hole devouring stars. 3XMM J215022.4−055108, or shortly J2150−0551, was the guilty party in the cosmic “homicide event”. The star cluster hosting J2150−0551 is set in the outer edges of a galaxy.
The astronomers, sort of hunted J2150−0551. “One of the few methods we can use to try to find an intermediate-mass black hole is to wait for a star to pass close to it and become disrupted – this essentially ‘activates’ the black hole’s appetite again and prompts it to emit a flare that we can observe,” said Dacheng Lin.
The place has a lot to do with the dimension of a black hole. If they are tiny stellar black holes, then they were born from the collapse of a single star. If they are at the center of a galaxy where there are class A conditions of high density and velocities, then they are super-massive black holes. If you are the middle sister, then you need a cluster of stars that aren’t in the center of the galaxy.