Using NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), astronomers have catalogued 20 previously undetected galaxies that are so bright they belong to an entirely new class of objects, including one that releases 10,000 times more energy than the Milky Way — even though it’s smaller.
In a finding that could turn supermassive black hole formation theories upside-down, astronomers have spotted one of these beasts inside a tiny galaxy just 157 light-years across — about 500 times smaller than the Milky Way.
For the first time ever, astronomers have detected a pair of supermassive black holes at the center of an inactive galaxy. The unique objects were discovered because they ripped apart a star when the ESA's observatory just happened to be looking in the right direction.
By magnifying a region of space 6 billion light-years away, astronomers have directly measured the spin of a distant black hole — and holy crap do these things ever rotate quickly.
Japanese astronomers have learned that merging galaxies can contain at least a pair of active and luminous supermassive black holes. Typically, only one of the two black holes are activated like this, leading the astronomers to speculate that something unique is happening in the environment to get them going.
Every once in a while, the Milky Way's supermassive black hole flings a wayward star into intergalactic space at speeds reaching 2 million miles per hour. But astronomers have now discovered a surprising new class of "hypervelocity stars" that can escape the galaxy — and they don't need the galactic core to do it.
Two years ago, astronomers realized that a gas cloud was on a collision course with the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. The encounter has since taken place — and it was all recorded in real time. Here's how it all went down — and a stunning simulation to go along with it.
It took an array of four radio dishes positioned around the globe and an international team of astronomers to do it, but it was well worth the effort: Astronomers have measured the radius of a supermassive black hole in the M87 galaxy that is 50 million light years away and 6 billion times more massive than our sun.
We already know that black holes swallow stars — and entire solar systems — but what effect does a stellar diet have on black holes? A new study suggests that eating stars is what turns baby black holes into supermassive black holes.