Black Holes – A Surprising Mass in the M82 Galaxy

Bright, near-white, oval X-ray image at center of frame on right is recent of the central region of a galaxy called M82 compared to image on left taken in June 2000. The anomalous V-shaped brightening in the left frame is a transitory intensity of x-rays that are unidentified but typical of x-ray fluctuations. Chandra X-ray Observatory images courtesy of NASA/SAO/CXC.
Bright, near-white, oval X-ray image at center of frame on right is recent of the central region of a galaxy called M82 compared to image on left taken in June 2000. The anomalous V-shaped brightening in the left frame is a transitory intensity of x-rays that are unidentified but typical of x-ray fluctuations. Chandra X-ray Observatory images courtesy of NASA/SAO/CXC.

September 12, 2000 Washington, D. C. - Today at NASA headquarters in the nation's capitol, astrophysicists presented new x-ray images by the Chandra X-ray Observatory that indicate something with the mass of at least 500 of our suns is packed into a region about the size of our moon in a nearby galaxy called M82. Such concentrated mass is probably a black hole. And if so, it is the first discovery of such a large black hole outside galactic centers. Until now, scientists have found evidence of small black holes only ten to twenty times bigger than our sun (one solar mass) or massive ones millions of times more massive than our sun, but only at the center of galaxies. This new discovery is at least 600 light years from the center of M82 and could be a new type of black hole that evolves and grows from the merger of many black holes. Further, the scientists reported that the intensity of the X-rays was rising and falling every 600 seconds, a ten minute cycle. Cycles are more consistent with matter falling into a black hole than the collapse of one gigantic star.

 

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