ALMA Weighs Monster Black Hole With Extreme Precision

Posted: May 6 2016, 2:46am CDT | by , Updated: May 6 2016, 3:26am CDT , in Latest Science News


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ALMA Measures Monster Black Hole with Extreme Precision
Combined image of NGC 1332 shows the central disk of gas surrounding the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. New ALMA observations traced the motion of the disk, providing remarkably precise measurements of the black hole's mass: 660 million times the mass of our Sun. The main image is from the Carnegie-Irvine Galaxy Survey. Credit: A. Barth (UCI), ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ); NASA/ESA Hubble; Carnegie-Irvine Galaxy Survey.
  • A Supermassive Black Hole has been Spotted by ALMA.
  • Precise Mass of a Giant Black Hole Measured

ALMA has just spotted a supermassive black hole at the center of one of the galaxies out there in the universe.

Very large black holes that have a massiveness that is millions and billions of times the mass of our sun lie at the center of many galaxies. In order to measure the massiveness of a black hole, scientists must gauge its gravitational pull.

The black hole exerts this suction force on the stars and other heavenly bodies in its vicinity. Using the ALMA as an instrument of observation, researchers went in depth into the heart of a neighboring galaxy.

They studied the large black hole at the center of a nearby elliptical galaxy. The measurements that were recorded provide the first glimpse into such a strange and curious case of a supermassive black hole.

It beats the rest hands down as far as sheer mass is concerned. ALMA was utilized to measure the speed at which carbon monoxide went in circumambulation around the the black hole.

The area was NGC 1332. This happens to be 73 million light years away from our home planet. The constellation Eridanus lies in proximity to this big black hole.

Despite having all the instruments of observation in the world at their disposal, the astronomers faced a difficult time measuring the mass of the black hole.

"Measuring the mass of a black hole accurately is very challenging, even with the most powerful telescopes on Earth or in space," said Aaron Barth, an astronomer at the University of California, Irvine, and lead author of the paper published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"ALMA has the revolutionary ability to observe disks of cold gas around supermassive black holes at small enough scales that we can clearly distinguish the black hole's influence on the disk's rotational speed."

ALMA provided the much-needed assistance that was required to make this astronomical query fruitful in the end. The disk surrounding the black hole was 16 light years in its diameter.

Towards its central focal point, the gas sped by at the rate of 500 kilometers per second which is a very fast speed indeed. The calculation which was reached at the end was that the black hole that lay at the center of NGC 1332 was 660 times bigger than our sun.

This figure makes this black hole about 150 times the size of the black hole extant at the center of our own Milky Way. However, the largest black holes in the universe are billions of times bigger than the sun.

ALMA did a good job of observing this black hole. It separated the recordings of other materials and stars in the vicinity. While this black hole is very large, it comprises just 1% of the total mass of objects in the universe. ALMA is a wonderful instrument that will aid scientists in future discoveries about the cosmos.

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