Scientists have discovered signs of a missing link black hole near the center of the Milky Way. The fifth candidate, or intermediate black hole as astronomers refer to it, has now been discovered. The hope is that finding one of these supposed missing links would help astronomers better understand how supermassive black holes form.
The discovery of a bizarre, tadpole-shaped cloud in a molecular cloud that orbits nothing close to the center our galaxy was possible due to observations. Typically when something is found orbiting nothing it indicates the presence of a black hole, which is exceptionally difficult to see with the light-based telescopes we utilize. The belief is that the tadpole is orbiting a missing link black hole.
But, why do astronomers call these intermediate black hole “missing links”? This is because they act as a bridge between supermassive blackholes and our normal stellar blackholes. They’re often referred to as missing link black holes because they hold more mass than regular black holes.
Despite holding more mass, though, they are believed to hold less mass than the supermassive black holes like the one we imaged at the center of the Milky Way. Thus far, scientists have discovered a total of more than 300 candidates. However, additional observation is needed to confirm if they are indeed these missing link black holes that scientists are looking for.
Learning how supermassive black holes form could open the door to a better understanding of galactic evolution as a whole. The problem, though, is that lone black holes often do not have any kind of light emitted around them. As such, it’s only possible for us to detect these missing link black holes by looking for signs of their immense gravity affecting the environment around them.
In this case, the tadpole-shaped molecular cloud appears to be evidence of the black hole’s gravitational pull. The researchers published their findings in The Astrophysical Journal last month.
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