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Mystery Around 'Missing' Supermassive Blackhole Deepens, Here's What We Know So Far

Representative image. (Image: REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Representative image. (Image: REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

According to NASA, nearly every large galaxy in the universe has been found to have a supermassive black hole in its center.

A supermassive black hole in the universe remains to be undetected by scientists at NASA and the experts are coming up with new explanations so as to why such a huge structure is not getting discovered even with technological advances.

According to NASA, nearly every large galaxy in the universe has been found to have a supermassive black hole in its center. As their names go, these black holes are giants with a mass that is millions or billions of times that of the sun. However, scientists have been unable to detect the black hole in the center of the galaxy cluster Abell 2261. This is located about 2.7 billion light-years from our planet and experts expect it to weigh between 3 and 100 billion times the mass of the Sun.

The American space agency used the resources of the Hubble Space Telescope as well as the Chandra X-ray Observatory but failed to find the black hole. Recently, NASA released a composite picture of the galaxy cluster Abell 2261 to illustrate their find.

In a blog, NASA explained that the image contains “optical data from Hubble and the Subaru Telescope showing galaxies in the cluster and in the background, and Chandra X-ray data showing hot gas [in pink] pervading the cluster”. Also, the centre of the composite image features the large elliptical galaxy in the center of the cluster.

The mass of a central black hole is related to the mass of the galaxy and hence astronomers expect the galaxy in the center of Abell 2261 to contain a supermassive black hole that is one of the largest known black holes in the entire universe. But its absence has puzzled them.

Using Chandra data obtained in 1999 and 2004 astronomers have failed to achieve a gateway. But this time the scientists have used Chandra data collected in 2018 and they have a possible explanation. They opine that the black hole could have been ejected from the host galaxy's center. Now such a huge incident can take place as a result of two galaxies merging to form the galaxy in question. In that case, the central black hole of each emerging galaxy will merge to form a giant black hole.

If the black holes had in fact actually merged, then it would have sent gravitational waves across the universe and if these waves were stronger in one direction, then there is a possibility of the black hole getting driven away. Interested people can get a detailed account by accessing the research paper.

first published:December 18, 2020, 18:29 IST