The second-largest supermassive black hole to Earth raises many questions among astronomers.
Scientists claim that in the center of the dwarf galaxy Leo I, a satellite of the Milky Way, there is a huge supermassive black hole similar the one that is in the center of our galaxy. Its mass is 3 million times the mass of the Sun, but it has not yet been directly detected. Scientists believe that it is possible to do that and this discovery may change the understanding of the evolution of galaxies.
Black Hole Leo I*
The dwarf galaxy Leo I is about 820 thousand light-years from Earth, and in late 2021, U.S. astronomers put forward a hypothesis that in the center of this galaxy there is a similar huge black hole to Sagittarius A* in the center of the Milky Way.
This potential supermassive black hole, which has been named Leo I*, has not yet been directly detected, but the movement of stars in the center of the galaxy indicates that such a "space monster" exists there. Preliminary research indicates that its weight is 3 million times the mass of the Sun.
How the existence of the Leo I* black hole can be proved?
According to Fabio Pacucci of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, there is a sufficient number of very old stars, called red giants, around Leo I*. At the end of their lives, they gradually dump their matter into space, and it is this matter that can be absorbed by the black hole, which emits radiation from the heated material surrounding the hole. It is this radiation that will make it possible to detect the black hole in this dwarf galaxy.
Why might this discovery change the understanding of the space?
According to another Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, if the existence Leo I* black hole is proved, it will be a real scientific breakthrough, and here's why:
"It would be the second-closest supermassive black hole after the one at the center of our galaxy, with a very similar mass but hosted by a galaxy that is a thousand times less massive than the Milky Way. This fact challenges everything we know about how galaxies and their central supermassive black holes co-evolve. How did such an oversized baby end up being born from a slim parent?"
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Today most huge galaxies are believed to have supermassive black holes in their center, and their mass is about 1/10th of the total mass of stars in the galaxy.
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