Hubble Space Telescope Discovers Earth’s Closest Supermassive Black Hole – A Cosmic Clue Frozen in Time

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the largest black hole Earth has ever seen, a cosmic Titan “frozen in time.”

An example of an elusive “intermediate-mass black hole,” this object could serve as a missing link in understanding the connection between stellar-mass and supermassive black holes. The black hole appears to have about 8,200 suns, which is significantly larger than stellar-mass black holes, which are 5 to 100 times the mass of the Sun, and much less massive than the aptly named supermassive black holes. The mass of the Sun ranges from millions to billions. The closest stellar-mass black hole scientists have found is called Gaia-BH1, and it’s 1,560 light-years away.

The newly discovered intermediate-mass black hole, on the other hand, resides in a magnificent cluster of about ten million stars called Omega Centauri, located 18,000 light-years from Earth.

(Image credit: ESA/Hubble/NASA/M.Haberle (MPIA))

Interestingly, the fact that the “frozen” black hole appears to have stunted its growth supports the idea that Omega Centauri is the remains of an ancient galaxy that was cannibalized by our own galaxy.

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