The Discovery of the Second Largest Black Hole in the Milky Way
If the discovery is confirmed, this new black hole will be ranked as the second largest black hole every seen in the Milky Way. It is only second to Sagittarius A that is located at the very center of the galaxy.
Astronomers in Japan found evidence of this new black hole when they turned a power telescope in the Atacama desert in Chile towards the gas cloud in the hope of understand the movement of gases in space. These observations showed that the molecules they discovered in this space gas cloud were being pulled around by immense gravitation forces. The only explanation of this massive gravitational pull in space is a black hole. Scientists suspect that this black hole is about 1.4 trillion km across.
Theories about Black Holes
So astronomers know that small black holes can form when a star explodes at the end of its life. It is estimated that the galaxy is full of these smaller type black holes. A total of 60 have been spotted by astronomers, but over 100m have been estimated. Astronomers also know that much larger, supermassive black holes lie at the heart of large galaxies like the Milky Way. For example, Sagittarius A weighs in at about 4 million suns. What is unknown is how do they form?
Its been theorized that maybe smaller black holes somehow come together to form larger ones. These larger ones hen collide forming supermasive black holes at the heart of galaxies. There is no definitive evidence that this is what occurs.
As said by Brooke Simmons at the University of California in San Diego, “We know that smaller black holes form when some stars die, which makes them fairly common. We think some of those black holes are the seeds from which the much larger supermassive black holes grow to at least a million times more massive. That growth should happen in part by mergers with other black holes and in part by accretion of material from the part of the galaxy that surrounds the black hole. Astrophysicists have been collecting observational evidence for both stellar mass black holes and supermassive black holes for decades, but even though we think the largest ones grow from the smallest ones, we’ve never really had clear evidence for a black hole with a mass in between those extremes,”
What Does That Mean for Earth and Our Galaxy?
In time the newly discovered black hole will be drawn towards Sagittarius A and sink into it. This would form an even larger supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy. What happens next is yet to be predicted. With a gravitational pull that strong, the fate of our galaxy may be at stake. Only further studies and time can tell.