You should never underestimate a dwarf galaxy! Despite their smaller size compared to an unusual galaxy, those ‘dwarfs’ can indeed harbor some devastating cosmic monsters! And when you say ‘cosmic monster,’ the first thing that pops into the mind is a black hole, without a doubt.
Black holes aren’t exactly ‘holes,’ despite their moniker. They are actually chunks of matter crushed into very small amounts of space that are also extremely dense. That’s the new perspective shared by Dr. Becky (Rebecca Smethurst by her real name), who’s an astrophysicist from Oxford.
The Tidal Disruption Event (TDE) enters the scene
Space.com tells us about the discovery of a black hole located in a dwarf galaxy roughly a million light-years away from Earth. The cosmic monster violently devoured a star that got too close, leading to a Tidal Disruption Event (TDE). Another incredible fact about the discovery is that the TDE generated a huge flare of radiation that was brighter than all of the stars combined of the dwarf galaxy.
Ryan Foley, an astronomer from UC Santa Cruz, reveals more about the importance of the new discovery:
This discovery has created widespread excitement because we can use tidal disruption events not only to find more intermediate-mass black holes in quiet dwarf galaxies but also to measure their masses.
Charlotte Angus from the Niels Bohr Institute, who’s also the first author of the study, explained as the same source quotes:
The fact that we were able to capture this midsize black hole whilst it devoured a star offered us a remarkable opportunity to detect what otherwise would have been hidden from us,
What is more, we can use the properties of the flare itself to better understand this elusive group of middle-weight black holes, which could account for the majority of black holes in the centers of galaxies.
Astronomers estimate that there are about 100 million black holes in our galaxy alone.