EXPERTS have been left astonished after a supermassive black hole which was thought to be in the middle of a distant galaxy has gone missing.
The bright cluster galaxy A2261-BCG appears to have lost its black hole and some scientists think it could now be floating through space.
Scientists can’t find a black hole they thought was in a distant galaxyCredit: Getty Images – Getty
This would be the first ever example of a “recoiling” black hole.
It means a powerful force in the galaxy may have ejected the supermassive black hole and sent it somewhere far away.
The mystery space event was spotted by researchers from a few universities in North America.
Almost every galaxy in the Universe is thought to have a giant black hole at its centre, including our galaxy which is the Milky Way.
It may have been ejected from the galaxy by a giant galactic forceCredit: Alamy
A team lead by Dr Kayhan Gultekin from the University of Michigan has published a study about recoiling black holes the American Astronomical Society journal.
Dr Gultekin had been studying galaxy A2261-BCG when he noticed the signs that the black hole was missing.
He told technology magazine Motherboard: “I was very sceptical and thought we would see something at the very centre. But that turned out not to be the case.”
The team have also considered that the black hole could still be hiding somewhere in the galaxy that is hard to detect.
The force powerful enough to eject a black hole could be two supermassive black holes colliding together.
Supermassive blackholes have never been observed merging so finding evidence of this would be groundbreaking.
The scientists how Nasa and the Europeans Space Agency will focus more research on this galactic mystery.
What is a black hole? The key facts
Here’s what you need to know…
What is a black hole?
- A black hole is a region of space where absolutely nothing can escape
- That’s because they have extremely strong gravitational effects, which means once something goes into a black hole, it can’t come back out
- They get their name because even light can’t escape once it’s been sucked in – which is why a black hole is completely dark
What is an event horizon?
- There has to be a point at which you’re so close to a black hole you can’t escape
- Otherwise literally everything in the universe would have been sucked into one
- The point at which you can no longer escape from a black hole’s gravitational pull is called the event horizon
- The event horizon varies between different black holes, depending on their mass and size
What is a singularity?
- The gravitational singularity is the very centre of a black hole
- It’s a one-dimensional point that contains an incredibly large mass in an infinitely small space
- At the singularity, space-time curves infinitely and the gravitational pull is infinitely strong
- Conventional laws of physics stop applying at this point
How are black holes created?
- Most black holes are made when a supergiant star dies
- This happens when stars run out of fuel – like hydrogen – to burn, causing the star to collapse
- When this happens, gravity pulls the centre of the star inwards quickly, and collapses into a tiny ball
- It expands and contracts until one final collapse, causing part of the star to collapse inward thanks to gravity, and the rest of the star to explode outwards
- The remaining central ball is extremely dense, and if it’s especially dense, you get a black hole
In other space news, stunning new images of the largest canyon in our Solar System have been taken by a Nasa probe on Mars.
Uranus, Mars and the Moon will make a pretty close approach later this month.
And, four Supermoons will be gracing the night sky in 2021.
What do you think of this black hole mystery? Let us know in the comments…
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