All big galaxies including our very own Milky Way galaxy is believed to harbor supermassive black hole at its center. Using NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, astronomers have discovered the tiniest supermassive black hole lurking in the heart of a dwarf galaxy at a distance of 340 million light years away. It has 50,000 times the mass of the Sun, and it is twice smaller than any known object of its kind.

The black hole is 100,000 times smaller than the largest black holes present in the core of other galaxies.

Elena Gallo who is an assistant professor of astronomy at the University Of Michigan College Of Literature, Science, and the Arts calls it a teeny supermassive black hole.

A Sloan Digital Sky Survey image of RGG 118, a galaxy containing the smallest supermassive black hole ever detected. The inset is a Chandra image showing hot gas around the black hole. Credits: NASA/CXC/Univ of Michigan/V.F.Baldassare, et al; Optical: SDSS
A Sloan Digital Sky Survey image of RGG 118, a galaxy containing the smallest supermassive black hole ever detected. The inset is a Chandra image showing hot gas around the black hole.
Credits: NASA/CXC/Univ of Michigan/V.F.Baldassare, et al; Optical: SDSS

Black Holes are of two types. The first is the stellar-mass variety that is composed of the mass of several Suns. They are created when the biggest stars die and collapse. The second kind of supermassive black holes is those which has a mass at least 100,000 times the mass of the Sun. These are thought to be created with the host galaxies whose centers they inhabit.

Each galaxy that includes our very own Milky Way harbor supermassive black hole in its center, the recently discovered black hole is one of the first to be found in a dwarf galaxy. It will give astronomers a better understanding of similarities between galaxies of different scales. The fact that the dwarf galaxy, called RGG 118 is so small makes it unlikely that it has merged with any other galaxy. It means that it is a much younger and will give astronomers an opportunity to get a peek into a much younger universe.

The bigger galaxies are believed to have grown through mergers with other galaxies. Therefore, these little dwarf galaxies could serve as the building blocks of the earlier universe. In the words of Vivienne Baldassare, a U-M doctoral student these galaxies are analogs to the galaxies of the earlier universe, and we do not know how our Milky Way looked when it was in its youth.

By studying how these dwarf galaxies devour other galaxies and become bigger and how they influence each other, astronomers can have a better understanding of how the galaxies were formed in the earlier universe.

Source: NASA.