Feeds

Astronomers sniff intermediate mass black hole

X-rays point to 500 solar mass 'middleweight'

The next step in data security

Astronomers from the University of Leicester and the CESR astrophysics lab in Toulouse reckon they've spotted an intermediate mass black hole - one of an elusive group of beasts weighing in between single star black holes and their supermassive cousins.

A team led by Sean Farrell was perusing X-ray sources dating back to 2000 when they spied an object in the galaxy ESO 243-49 emitting fluctuating X-rays "400 times as bright as the maximum value for a stellar black hole", as New Scientist explains.

Significantly, the X-ray emissions weren't from a galactic centre, where supermassive black holes commonly lurk, and the scientists ruled out a blazar galaxy - a type which also transmits fluctuating X-rays.

In this case, the "strong radio emissions" also associated with blazars were absent.

The astronomers also dismissed the possibility that the X-rays might come from a small black hole's jet which "could have made that object seem bigger if directly focused at Earth". The spectrum "did not suggest this", according to Farrell.

The team notes that "the existence of such intermediate-mass black holes is in dispute, and though many candidates have been proposed, none are widely accepted as definitive".

The team's claim for middleweight glory can be found in Nature (subscription required). ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.