A tiny galaxy orbiting the Milky Way called Leo I could be harboring a huge secret.
According to a new analysis, the central region of Leo I has an absolutely monster supermassive black hole, compared to the mass of the galaxy. The galaxy itself is around 20 million times the mass of the Sun. The black hole is around 3.3 million solar masses – around 16 percent of the total mass of the galaxy.
Although there’s a large uncertainty margin, the result is still a huge surprise. That mass of 3.3 million solar masses is pretty danged close to the mass of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. Sgr A* is around 4 million solar masses – and recent calculations put the mass of the Milky Way at around 1.3 trillion solar masses.
That’s an absolutely gobsmacking difference in the mass ratios. The possible presence of such a large black hole in such a small galaxy is surprising since we thought we had some pretty reliable rules for the ratio of a central black hole to its galaxy. But, if verified, it could tell us something new about how galaxies, and the supermassive black holes at their centers, grow and evolve.
“A black hole mass this large in Leo I is significant in many respects,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
“It is the first detection of a black hole in a dwarf spheroidal galaxy using spatially resolved kinematics, it has a mass that is similar to the total stellar mass of the system, and it is a comparable mass to that of the black hole in the center of the Milky Way.”
There’s a whole swarm of dwarf galaxies in the space around the Milky Way (and around other galaxies, too), some that are in the process of colliding with and being absorbed by the other galaxy. This is thought to be an important means whereby galaxies grow larger gradually over time.
But not all dwarf galaxies are built alike, and studying them can help us understand galactic diversity, and how these objects form.
Leo I, located around 820,000 light-years from Earth, is one such potential outlier. Unlike most of the Milky Way satellites, it’s been found to have not much dark matter – the directly undetectable gravitational glue that binds the Universe.
Although we can’t probe dark matter directly, we can measure it based on the influence it has on things we can detect. Stars, for example, orbit their galaxies faster than they should if just the detectable matter was influencing them.
Astronomers at the University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory wanted to study Leo I’s dark matter profile, or the way the dark matter density changes from the center of the galaxy to its outskirts.
They took new observations of Leo I using the Harlan J. Smith Telescope at McDonald Observatory, and then entered this data and sophisticated models of the galaxy into a supercomputer for analysis. And their results showed that a supermassive black hole should be lurking in the galactic center.
“The models are screaming that you need a black hole at the center; you don’t really need a lot of dark matter,” said astronomer Karl Gebhardt of UT Austin.
“You have a very small galaxy that is falling into the Milky Way, and its black hole is about as massive as the Milky Way’s. The mass ratio is absolutely huge. The Milky Way is dominant; the Leo I black hole is almost comparable.”
The team’s paper showed that previous measurements of the orbital velocities of stars in Leo I showed a strong bias towards slower stars; that’s why previous calculations may have missed such a huge mass. Since the new study claims not to have such a bias, it was able to find what others missed.
But the result is not entirely unprecedented, either.
In 2014, a dwarf galaxy with a total mass of 140 million solar masses was found to have a supermassive block hole clocking in at 21 million solar masses – around 15 percent of the total galactic mass. Then, in 2017, two more dwarf galaxies were found with black hole chonks, of 4.4 million and 5.8 million solar masses – 13 and 18 percent of the masses of their host galaxies, respectively.
So, while we currently have “no explanation for this kind of black hole in dwarf spheroidal galaxies,” according to UT Austin astronomer María José Bustamante, perhaps it’s actually quite a common occurrence.
And that could help explain how supermassive black holes get so supermassive. When two galaxies merge, eventually their supermassive black holes should, too. Which means dwarf galaxies could be feeding the black holes of huge ones.
“If the mass of Leo I’s black hole is high, that may explain how black holes grow in massive galaxies,” Gebhardt said.
The research has been published in The Astrophysical Journal.
Former US Air Force fighter pilot: UFOs use Star Trek-style warp drive
A former US Air Force fighter pilot asserts that he has deciphered
the method behind the extraordinary maneuvers of UFOs, reports dailystar.co.uk.
the past two decades, numerous military encounters with these enigmatic
crafts have been reported, prompting a significant investigation by the
One of the most renowned sightings occurred during the
USS Nimitz encounter, where fighter pilots witnessed a UFO descending
from 28,000 feet to just above sea level in less than a second.
astonishing movement would imply that the craft reached a staggering
speed of 19,000 miles per hour, a velocity that would be fatal to any
to Chris Lehto, a former USAF pilot, the craft exhibits two key
characteristics: it moves without inertia, essentially lacking weight,
and it accelerates at an incredibly rapid pace without affecting its
believes that the explanation lies within a technology that seems
straight out of science fiction. He proposes that the answer to the UFO
enigma lies in the Alcubierre Drive, a theoretical interstellar engine
conceptualized by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre in 1994.
Alcubierre Drive employs a form of “space warp” technology, reminiscent
of what has been depicted in episodes of Star Trek. By bending space, a
craft inside a “warp bubble” could potentially travel at or even
surpass the speed of light without violating the known laws of physics.
the Alcubierre Drive remains a hypothetical concept with challenges to
overcome, Chris notes that the required energy is no longer believed to
be unattainably large.
filed with the US patent office outline the potential workings of the
drive, as well as another groundbreaking technology theorized by
American aerospace engineer Salvatore Pais.
Pais suggests that
high-powered rotating magnets could theoretically eliminate an object’s
inertia, and he has filed a patent for a starship based on this
However, Chris maintains skepticism regarding Pais’
theory. He explains that while Pais’s patent applications for the US
Navy attracted attention for their potential energy-related
applications, doubts have been raised about their feasibility. There is
speculation that they may be scams, pseudoscience, or disinformation
intended to mislead adversaries of the United States.
rival theories propose that the “Tic Tac” UFO is a classified Pentagon
project testing similar advanced technologies discussed by Chris.
A Mysterious Earth-Like Planet Has Just Appeared in Our Solar System, Scientists Say
Scientists say they have found evidence of a new Earth-like
planet that has suddenly appeared in our Solar System and is orbiting
Physicists, including those from the National Astronomical Observatory
of Japan, said the planet is likely to be the mysterious ‘Planet Nine’
that was hypothesised to exist in the far outer edges of the Solar
Several studies in the past have suggested there is likely an
undiscovered planet beyond the Kuiper Belt – a stellar disk of materials
such as asteroids, space rocks, comets around the Sun in the outer
Solar System past the orbit of Neptune.
Independent.co.uk reports: In the new research, published recently in The Astronomical Journal, scientists
found that some of the objects in the Kuiper Belt behave in a way
indicative of the presence of a small planet among them.
One such object, they said, is about 500 astronomical units (AU) from
the Sun, where 1 AU is the distance between the Sun and the Earth.
In comparison Neptune is at a distance of 30 AUs from the Sun.
Some of these were also found to have “odd” orbits suggesting they
are being pull by the gravity of a cosmic entity larger than those that
typically influence such objects.
Computer simulations run by the scientists indicate that the most
likely explanation for the observations was another hidden planet in the
“We predict the existence of an Earth-like planet,” researchers wrote in the study.
“It is plausible that a primordial planetary body could survive in
the distant Kuiper Belt as a Kuiper Belt planet (KBP), as many such
bodies existed in the early solar system,” they added.
If such a planet exists, researchers say it would have a mass about
1.5 to 3 times that of Earth with an inclination of about 30 degrees.
They say the theorised planet’s orbit would likely place it between 250 and 500 AU from the Sun.
Researchers say the discovery of such a planet close to the Kuiper
Belt can unravel new constraints on planet formation and evolution.
“In conclusion, the results of the KBP scenario support the existence
of a yet-undiscovered planet in the far outer solar system,” scientists
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