Lowest supermassive black hole ever found; Research

One of the lowest mass supermassive black holes observed in the middle of a galaxy

Astronomers have found the lowest mass-supermassive black holes ever in the middle of the galaxy.

This research was done by Nathan Secrest, from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and collaborators, and published in the July 1 issue of the  The Astrophysical Journal.

This mini-supermassive black hole was found with the help of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and several other observatories in the middle of the spiral galaxy NGC 4178 shown in the image from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. This galaxy is located about 55 million light years away from the Earth.

The inset shows an X-ray source at the position of the black hole. The black hole in the center of the image is pulling in material from its surroundings as shown by the properties of the X-ray source such as its brightness and spectrum; the amount of X-rays at different wavelengths and brightness at infrared wavelengths. The data taken from these observations also showed that the gas and the dust around the black hole absorb the light generated by the infalling material.

In order to determine the mass of the black hole, scientists use the relationship between the mass of a black hole and the amount of X-rays and radio waves it generates. Based on these findings, scientists found that the mass of the black hole is less than about 200,000 times that of the sun.

Further Reading: Chandra X-Ray Observatory


N. J. Secrest, S. Satyapal, M. Gliozzi, C. C. Cheung, A. C. Seth, and T. Böker, (2012). The Chandra view of NGC 4178: the lowest mass black hole in a Bulgeless disk galaxy? The Astrophysical Journal, doi:10.1088/0004-637X/753/1/38


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