Supermassive Black Holes Are Cannibals

Supermassive Black Holes Are Cannibals

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For three years, an international team of astronomers has had an elusive black hole in a galaxy 290 million light-years away under surveillance, hoping for clues about how galaxies and the supermassive black holes at their centers evolve. The researchers now say they’ve found the strongest candidate yet for the mid-sized black hole, which may have been at the core of a dwarf galaxy that collided with a larger galaxy less than 200 million years ago.

If the analysis holds up, it would strengthen the notion that the black holes at the center of galaxies grow through collisions and mergers involving their host galaxies, just as the galaxies themselves are thought to grow. In the case of this cosmic fugitive, it’s expected to eventually merge with the supermassive black hole at the center of its host galaxy.

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