Finding Intermediate-Sized Black Holes

From NASA

main-shredded-galaxy_0

In our vast universe, the heaviest black holes grew from seeds. Nourished by the gas and dust they consume, or by merging with other dense objects, these seeds grow in size and heft to form the centers of galaxies, such as our own Milky Way. But unlike in the realm of plants, the seeds of giant black holes must have been black holes, too. And no one has ever found these seeds — yet.

One idea is that supermassive black holes — the equivalent of hundreds of thousands to billions of Suns in mass — grew from a population of smaller black holes that has never been seen. This elusive group, the “intermediate-mass black holes,” would weigh in somewhere between 100 and 100,000 Suns. Among the hundreds of black holes found so far, there have been plenty of relatively small ones, but none for sure in the intermediate mass-range “desert.”

In this image, a galaxy called ESO 243-49 is home to an extremely bright object called HLX-1. Circled in this image, HLX-1 is the most likely example of a black hole in the intermediate mass range that scientists have found.

Image Credits: NASA; ESA; and S. Farrell, Sydney Institute for Astronomy, University of Sydney

Last Updated: Sept. 26, 2019

Editor: Yvette Smith

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49 thoughts on “Finding Intermediate-Sized Black Holes

      • Gravitational lensing only rules out black holes as dark matter in certain mass ranges. There are other BH mass ranges which are unconstrained.

        • One idea is that supermassive black holes — the equivalent of hundreds of thousands to billions of Suns in mass — grew from a population of smaller black holes that has never been seen. This elusive group, the “intermediate-mass black holes,” would weigh in somewhere between 100 and 100,000 Suns.

          Sounds like the “illusive” link between man and apes which have never been seen.

    • The theory that makes the most sense to me, is that dark matter is complementary to supermassive black holes, both of which formed concurrently at the Big Bang. The galaxies then formed within the resulting gravitational ‘well’ separating the newly created supermassive black holes from their offsetting dark matter. In this context, dark matter is not comprised of particle, but is a wiggle in the fabric of space-time left behind in the wake of super massive black hole creation.

      Similarly, dark energy can also be explained as an imprint in the space-time curvature of the Universe arising from the growth of the space-time containing all of the photons ever emitted. It arises as the projection of all space-time into our local viewport, where the time dimension required to contain the entire photon history of the Universe is expanding faster than the spatial dimensions, relative to the speed of light.

    • Are black holes like the center of a whirlpool? Sucking intergalactic gas and debris in to constantly renew a galaxy. As the gas and debris get pulled in to the outer portion of the galaxy gravity and closer proximity to molecules creates new stars. Meaning over time everything in the galaxy ends up in the black hole at the center.

  1. Black Hole: Isn’t that the place governments throw tax payer’s money never to see it again?

  2. A really interesting comment at the NASA link above :
    Intermediate-mass black hole hunters eagerly await the launch of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which will peer back to the dawn of the first galaxies. Webb will help astronomers figure out which came first — the galaxy or its central black hole — and how that black hole might have been put together. In combination with X-ray observations, Webb’s infrared data will be important for identifying some of the most ancient black hole candidates.
    This gets curiouser and curiouser.
    Could it be that galaxies with no central black holes “now” simply evaporated or fissioned off star progenitors?

    And https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HLX-1 is worth a look.

    • “Webb will help astronomers figure out which came first — the galaxy or its central black hole”

      How?

      • Webb is Infrared, so highly redshifted.
        If we find fully formed galaxies with no time to form, there is a problem.

        Now the NASA note mentions Xray too . Hmm, highly redshifted X?
        Anyway the HLX1 was thoroughly redshift checked.

        BH accretion v. fission or some sort of evaporation is the question, I think.

  3. Black, Pink, Rainbow, Tranny holes. Who cares. Irrelevancies for the majority of mankind.

    Hawking peddling his entropy-Blackhole theorems, hailed as a scientist. Most of it is conjecture and philosophy and has no impact on reality, real life, real people or real improvements.

    Hawking et al and most of cosmology are about as interesting and pertinent as astrology. A scientist is someone like Pasteur – open science, replicable, beneficial for mankind, without (pace climatology) a need for profits, grandiosity, or totalitarian fascism.

    • Yeah, one wonders, how much of this gibberish would be made without robed money( i.e. tax money).
      So many people fascinated with all the grand theories, how much would the pay for it voluntarily?

  4. I wish journalists would either quit using agricultural meme’s for the heavens – seeds , feedin’ an’ all that,
    or get it right!
    In this case, if they just have to be faux farmers, it is a chicken and egg question which came first, black holes or galaxies.

    • I might suggest the metaphorical of “seed” in this instance is more akin to water condensation onto “seed” particles or ice accumulation onto similar “seeds”. In that regard it as significant application.

      re. chicken vs. egg: Mutations can only occur at the embryonic level, hence the egg. The bird that hatched from the egg was called a “chicken”. Since it mutated during creation it must not be the same as its parent. It’s parent was therefore “not a chicken”. (If its parent was also a chicken, then it obviously wasn’t the first chicken.) So, the bird that laid the egg was “not a chicken” (but probably damn close). Now some may get semantic and say that the egg was therefore not a chicken egg. Which while true, as only a chicken could lay a chicken egg, is meaningless because the first chicken must have hatched from some sort of egg other than a chicken egg. (assuming it didn’t generate spontaneously)

      • There have been eggs for hundreds of millions of years – it’s not a hypothesis. Some dinosaurs definitely laid eggs – the nests and eggs have been found, some of the eggs with embryonic dinos inside. Presumably fish, amphibians, insects, and others also had the egg habit. Even with the loosest definition of “chicken”, chickens don’t go back that far. There were eggs before there were chickens, QED.

    • All the blame shouldn’t be put on the journalists. Astronomers have an unfortunate habit of humanizing inanimate objects like galaxies and black holes and stars. They speak of them as though they are thinking entities with freedom of action

  5. If this is true:

    “In our vast universe, the heaviest black holes grew from seeds. Nourished by the gas and dust they consume, or by merging with other dense objects, these seeds grow in size and heft to form the centers of galaxies, such as our own Milky Way.”

    Then why does this have to be true?:

    “But unlike in the realm of plants, the seeds of giant black holes must have been black holes, too. ”

    Why do the “seeds” of black holes have to be black holes too? Why can’t these seeds be from the gas and dust they consume or by merging with other dense objects?

    • Under current conditions, any amount of gas and dust will coalesce until it undergoes exothermic nuclear fusion, which immediately blows off the rest of the nebula, thus ending its growth. Only when the ongoing fusion reactions are spent can super dense objects be formed (white dwarfs not included, they can still fuse carbon if given the chance).

      Of course, there are some who think that primordial black holes could have been formed in the first moments of the Big Bang. Whether or not they exist is an intensely aggravating unknown in physics.

      • Gas and dust clouds do not coalesce on their own. Kinetic energy of particles greatly exceeds gravity within cloud. This is typical tale:
        “Star formation begins when the denser parts of the cloud core collapse under their own weight/gravity. These cores typically have masses around 104 solar masses in the form of gas and dust. The cores are denser than the outer cloud, so they collapse first. As the cores collapse they fragment into clumps around 0.1 parsecs in size and 10 to 50 solar masses in mass. These clumps then form into protostars…” This last part is where the difficulty lies.
        The “clumps” are actually clouds of gas and dust, each spread over approximately 0.1 parsec. As a cloud collapses the individual molecules/particles gain kinetic energy and angular momentum. Gravity field of a cloud can draw molecules/particles near, but cannot make them bind together. Remember, the central core of a gas cloud is surrounded by a far more massive field of of matter. Gravity at the core is balanced. There is no net vector. Surrounding gas cloud is nothing like a barrier to outward movement of energized molecules exiting the core area.

      • “Fraud & media created ‘genius’ icon Albert Einstein and his crap must be protected at all costs.”

        Does anybody have an idea about what is going on today?
        The wackos are out in full force. Every post that I have read today (at WUWT) has more than a couple of wacked-out statements that have nothing to do with the topic. It is the end of the month, maybe they all ran out of their meds.

  6. I suspect that when a galaxy first forms, the revolving mass of stars must be
    most dense at its centre. Thus the chances of collisions between stars at that
    point would be high. So stars combine and get bigger. Now perhaps this bigger
    than usual star would as with the planet Jupiter sweep the area around it and
    thus grow. Finally its gravity is so great that it becomes a black hole.

    If this is correct this should mean that every large galaxy has a black hole at its centre.

    MJE VK5ELL

    • 1. A “dense” distribution of stars is still filled with enormous voids of empty space.

      2. The solar winds of two active stars will repulse each other at quite some distance, long before mutual gravitation comes into significant play.

      3. Should two active stars manage to close in on each other, their accelerations would make it nearly impossible to enter into capture orbits. Rather, they would slingshot past each other.

      4. In the event of two active stars are on perfect bullseye trajectories, in the instant that their surfaces impact, they would generate unimaginably powerful pressure waves, causing runaway fusion throughout both stars all at once. The two once stable hydrogen reactors would become stellar sized hydrogen bombs. The resulting supernova would instantly vaporize both cores, and the space in between them, leaving nothing behind.

      Still, that would be cool to see too.

      • All of these mechanics you mention are two body systems. Multiple body systems will have far more interactive affect and allow for coalescence. It wont be pretty nor clean, parts will be busting off and flying, but it obviously has happened. We just don’t have any time lapse videos of the universe’s creation …yet.

        • You are correct, if multiple bodies are present. Problem is how to get from gas clouds to any bodies at all, per my post up-thread.

          SR

  7. The trouble with the Black Hole theory is that it’s not that Black or White and is full of holes!
    (Another scientific misnomer)

    • “Black Holes Suck”
      “#Black Holes Matter!”
      Q: What is the IQ of Black Holes?
      A: They’re even denser than neutron stars!

  8. “In our vast universe, the heaviest black holes grew from seeds. Nourished by the gas and dust they consume, or by merging with other dense objects, these seeds grow in size and heft to form the centers of galaxies, such as our own Milky Way. But unlike in the realm of plants, the seeds of giant black holes must have been black holes, too. And no one has ever found these seeds — yet.”

    This is what I dislike. The above is stated as if it’s something we know, when it’s actually pure speculation.

  9. To be seen from that distance (290 mly), the proposed small black hole must be very active (sucking in matter, etc).

  10. They are always finding things unexpected when seeing things with greater detail. Maybe they will find there was more than one big bang. Where in the night sky is the origin of the big bang?

  11. Another question they probably cannot answer: Do any galaxies have more than one super-massive black hole, or does the first one somehow prevent the creation of more within the same galaxy? And if so how? For full credit show all of your work so it may be replicated.

  12. Perhaps a stupid question but why is the suspected intermediate size black hole a bright object? Where is the light coming from?

    • Dr Robitaille is absolutely fearless in his evisceration of Astronomy and Big Physics. He is a first class heritic and all of his arguments are based on first-principals, many from thermodynamics. You might enjoy this paper … Forty Lines of Evidence for Condensed Matter — The Sun on Trial:Liquid Metallic Hydrogen as a Solar Building Block

      http://www.ptep-online.com/2013/PP-35-16.PDF

      It’s a very easy read, considering the subject matter.

      Dr Robitaille’s critique of climate science can be paraphrased as … temperatures in thermodynamics are intensive properties, and by definition cannot be averaged. Period. End of story. If you do not understand this, then you should have failed thermodynamics. So all of the predictions of the climate models are complete garbage by definition as they are based on averaging daily temperatures. Oops.

  13. What bothers me is the billions of dollars spent to search for something they can never find. Each study and each space craft comes up with zip.
    This imaginative hypothesis has a lot of holes and produces more questions than answers. How about the recent Plasma Cosmology? The electric universe theory. Seems plausible, and at least it answers more questions than it creates. The Thunderbolts Project and Suspicious Observers has a lot of information about it.

  14. The Holy Trinity: Big Bang (Father), Black Holes (Son) and Dark Matter (Holy Spirit). I have seen the light! I’m a believer!

  15. An alternative hypothesis: The center of galaxies are an electromagnetic plasmoid.

    An active galaxy takes in matter & electromagnetic energy through the arms and expels matter & electromagnetic energy out the spin axis.

    Galaxies are connected to each other via electromagnetic circuits known as Birkeland currents.

    The idea of “black holes” has been falsified several times by observations which contradict the basic tenants of the hypothesis such as the idea that nothing can escape a “black hole”, not even light. Yet matter & electromagnetic energy has been observed leaving a galaxy via the spin axis.

  16. Black holes are defined, so far as I can make out, as heavy bodies with such a massive gravitation that no particle can escape. Any particle, even one so fast as the speed of light, within the BH, would by reason of the immense gravity, fail to reach the ‘event horizon’.

    Ergo, in reverse, any particle approaching the BH would be accelerated so much as to reach the speed of light. But with increase in speed, so would its mass increase, and with time dilation as its speed increases, it would take an infinite time to reach the event horizon.

    Hence, black holes cannot absorb matter! QED.

    On the other hand, a particle just short of the event horizon, and moving in any direction but up at the speed of light, could be hit by another particle, and propelled over the event horizon. Hence matter can leak out of a BH. Hence any BH will gradually diminish in size. Ergo, any existing BH, if such really exist, must be left over from the original Big Bang. (The prohibition on a particle moving up, at the speed of light, is because if it is hit by another particle, the latter would have to be overtaking it, hence the second particle would have to be moving faster than the speed of light, which we all know is not possible, except when a particle moving at the speed of light enters a denser medium, such as glass. Note, if a particle goes from air to glass, and is moving at the speed of light in air, it would then exceed the speed of light in glass unless it suffers infinite deceleration. QED).

    But at the Big Bang, all matter now existing was contained in an infinitely small space. And had infinite gravitation as a result. This was the primordial BH. And it self destructed. So since one BH has self destructed, it is feasible that all BHs, if such exist, can self destruct. It is just that this does not apparently happen very often, for if they did, we should see several every year, given the number of stars in the Universe. Alternatively, all the BHs ever created have self destructed. Hence on this hypothesis, there are no BHs.

    Of course, this may be all BS?

    • No, not all BS.

      One problem is a misnomer for what is measured when stating ‘speed of light in glass’. It induces the assumption that glass is a homogeneous thing and not built out of atoms. Between the atoms there is plenty of space one may consider as vacuum. So how does that poor photon know to ‘slow down’ when it moves through vacuum most of the time? And to ‘speed up’ again when there are fewer atoms seen on it’s way? Who counts?

      We measure time t = s / v and pretend measuring v and assume a constant s instead of v = c, c being constant?

      Strange.

  17. No, Dark matter ≠ black holes !

    Other there’d be no difference between dark matter / black holes – we wouldn’t need 2 concepts of the same phenomenon.

    But black holes have to FOLLOW the much more powerful dark matter and these distribute the galaxies into “well-arranged” fields with “sufficient distance” from each other.

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