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Astronomers Spot Black Hole So big, It Defies Current Theories Of Galaxy Evolution

95242_webPhoto credit: An illustrated view of a black hole that outgrew its galaxy via Michael S. Helfenbein/Yale University

Almost all galaxies are thought to have a supermassive black hole at their cores that make up at most 0.5% of the galaxy’s total mass.

So the discovery of a galaxy called CID-947 with a black hole that makes up 10% of its mass has left scientists dumbfounded, possibly overturning current theories of how galaxies evolve.

This 11.7-billion-year-old supermassive black hole appears to have grown much faster than its host galaxy. Forming two billion years after the Big Bang, it is among the most massive black holes ever found, with a mass of about seven billion times that of the Sun.

Lead author on the study, Benny Trakhtenbrot from ETH Zurich’s Institute for Astronomy, said in a statement that it was a “gigantic black hole within a normal-size galaxy,” far exceeding the size expected for black holes in galaxies. Speaking to IFLS, he added that “the black hole had to grow first, and the galaxy is experiencing its period of maximum growth later.”

That the galaxy was still forming stars and continuing to grow was surprising, as it challenges theories that radiation emitted by expanding black holes would stunt the creation of new stars.


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