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Astronomers discover super-massive recoiling black hole

In a Hubble picture, the red circle indicates an object in a distant galaxy that could be an ejected black hole. Photo by SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

UTRECHT (BNS): Astronomers have recently discovered a super-massive black hole that is recoiling out of a distant remote galaxy at high speed.

Utrecht University student Marianne Heida discovered the bizarre star during her final undergraduate project, undertaken at SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, in a galaxy more than half a billion light years away.

The star Heida discovered was clearly not located in the centre of the system. However, under X-rays the object looked so bright that it can best be compared to other bright super-massive black holes in the universe, according to a news release by the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

Heida made the discovery by comparing hundreds of thousands of X-ray sources, picked up by chance, with the positions of millions of galaxies.

"We have found even more of this strange class of X-ray sources. However, we first of all need accurate measurements from NASA's Chandra satellite to pinpoint them more precisely," said Marianne Heida.

In future, discovery of more recoiling black holes will provide a better understanding of the characteristics of black holes before they merge. It might even be possible to observe this process with the planned LISA satellite. Astronomers hope to use this satellite to measure the gravity waves that the two merging black holes emit.

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