Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space Science

Intermediate-Mass Black Hole Found In Omega Centauri 89

Posted by kdawson
from the big-fleas-have-little-fleas dept.
esocid sends us to the European Space Agency's site for news of a new discovery that appears to resolve the long-standing mystery surrounding Omega Centauri, the largest and brightest globular cluster in the sky. The object is 17,000 light-years distant and is located just above the plane of the Milky Way. Seen from a dark rural area in the southern hemisphere, Omega Centauri appears almost as large as the full moon. What the researchers discovered is a black hole of 40,000 solar masses in the cluster's center. From the press release: "Images obtained with the Advanced Camera for Surveys onboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and data obtained by the GMOS spectrograph on the Gemini South telescope in Chile show that Omega Centauri appears to harbor an elusive intermediate-mass black hole in its center... Exactly how Omega Centauri should be classified has always been a contentious topic. It was first listed in Ptolemy's catalog nearly two thousand years ago as a single star. Edmond Halley reported it as a nebula in 1677. In the 1830s the English astronomer John Herschel was the first to recognize it as a globular cluster. Now, more than a century later, this new result suggests Omega Centauri is not a globular cluster at all, but a dwarf galaxy stripped of its outer stars. According to scientists, these intermediate-mass black holes could turn out to be baby supermassive black holes."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Intermediate-Mass Black Hole Found In Omega Centauri

Comments Filter:
  • by PinkyDead (862370) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:09PM (#22952428) Journal
    ...never one when you need one - then three come along all at once.
  • Wow- what a headache. What would you feed it?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    GOATSE.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      GOATSE.
      GOATSE is not an Intermediate Mass Black Hole. It's a Giant Black Ass Hole.
  • by Dopamine, Redacted (1244524) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:13PM (#22952474)
    So, we've now discovered the biggest and smallest black holes known to exist within about a week of each other.

    Now that we've found the most average, space bears will come and blast us into porridge.

    Astronomy kicks ass.

    Especially when the universe works like my mind wants it to [slashdot.org].
    • by explosivejared (1186049) <hagan,jared&gmail,com> on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:20PM (#22952560)
      Any non-Americans will be fine. Remember, bears of any kind are born with an innate hatred for America. They are godless killing machines. As an American myself... well it was nice knowing you all.
    • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:24PM (#22952598)

      So, we've now discovered the biggest and smallest black holes known to exist within about a week of each other.
      Not the "biggest". Scientists are excited because this is the most intermediate black hole mass ever found. You just can't get any more medium-sized than this. It is the blackest and most densest form that intermediateness can take on- no other massive compact object has been found to have quite this level of intermediacy.
    • Holy cow, you must be psychic!

      Woah ... deja vu! The Matrix must be rebooting!
    • by EricWright (16803)
      Did you read ... anything? Intermediate-Mass black hole seems to indicate its neither stellar sized (small) nor galactic-center super-massive (large) in size.
      • by mcvos (645701)

        Did you read ... anything? Intermediate-Mass black hole seems to indicate its neither stellar sized (small) nor galactic-center super-massive (large) in size.

        Exactly. That is why this is the goldilocks black hole, unlike the previous two that were too big [slashdot.org] and too small [slashdot.org]. Please google for "goldilocks" to understand the cultural reference. It's a fairy tale and Wikipedia has a summary.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by niktemadur (793971)
      Three settings on the space bears' ray guns:
      Stun, Kill and Porridge.

      They'll hunt them down and find them, of course. In Ursa Major. When they open them up, they'll find that inside, they're full of people.
      'Cause you know, sometimes you eat the space bear, sometimes the space bear eats you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:14PM (#22952486)
    strip Omega Centauri of its globular cluster status. I hope the Pluto people will be just as vocal against this change.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Sciros (986030)
      Well what we can do now is release t-shirts that say "When I was your age, Omega Centauri was a globular cluster."
    • well atleast a dwarf galaxy(albeit a crippled one) is still an upgrade from globular cluster. so this is a great event. what is this "pluto" you talk about? :P
    • Just because it has a central black hole doesn't make it a dwarf elliptical galaxy.

      What distinguishes the Milky Way globular clusters is the the are all about the same, very old, almost as old as the Universe age. If there is reason to believe this is gravitationally bound to the Milky Way instead of some interloper, and if it has the same HR diagram turnoff point of other Milky Way globulars, there is no reason to think it is anything other than one of the bigger and fatter and closer of the globulars.

  • by msauve (701917) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:15PM (#22952498)
    I propose calling them "jumbo shrimp black holes."
    • Hey, that's my band's name, get your grubby mitts out of here!
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by davesays (922765)

      Funny, I was just going to say "Those have got to be either the title of the latest U2 album, or some crazy pr0n." But as it relates to actual black holes your proposed name is superb...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ExploHD (888637)
      So can we start calling asteroids "rock lobsters"?
  • by spazdor (902907) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:17PM (#22952518)

    these intermediate-mass black holes could turn out to be baby supermassive black holes

    So, instead of medium-size, they might actually be small big?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Undead Supermassive Baby Sleeping Black Hole. So thats +5 for Undead, +10 for Supermassive, -5 for baby, -5 for Sleeping, +5 for...
    • by esocid (946821)
      I'm no astronomer or physicist but I think they are trying to say that intermediate mass black holes like this one can become supermassive black holes once the cluster of stars surrounding them die or contribute to it.
    • Nonono, it's a Grande.
    • Doesn't the universe realize that it can get a Venti Black Hole for only $0.25 more?
  • I feel it tuggging my leg now.

    No, thats my dog I forgot feed breakfast.
  • In Soviet Russia, baby supermassive black holes turn out to be you!
  • ..set a course for Omega Centauri, warp 2. Engage. [points finger towards screen]
  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @01:27PM (#22953448) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes I find myself wondering if there are alien civilizations close enough to supernovae, or black holes (which emit intense x-rays), or are in galaxies which suffer collisions, or whose home planets are hit by comets.

    Any civilization without space flight capability - much more advanced than our own - would have no way to escape, and would be wiped out.

    It seems like catastrophes on an astronomical scale are fairly common; how many intelligent beings have perished as a result?

    • by The Queen (56621)
      Aw great, now you've gone and done it. *knocks on wood* Are we considered intelligent enough to be endangered by your question?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      A few of these things only sound bad, but once you do the analysis are not a problem at all. Hard to tell which unless you think hard (which is called science) or read the reports of others who've thought hard:

      Sometimes I find myself wondering if there are alien civilizations close enough to supernovae, or black holes (which emit intense x-rays),

      A near-by supernova explosion would be absolutely catastrophic, as would straying into the particle stream ejected by a black hole. No good way around that without interstellar flight, so you're pretty much right. Using statistical arguments combined with the known movement of the solar system throug

  • Cool. They found Londo's soul.
  • Anyone got a pic to illustrate this? I can't really believe a star to be that visibly large.
    • Try looking at the big star that's visible every day.
    • I can't really believe a star to be that visibly large.

      Maybe because it is a galaxy (arguably).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Petrushka (815171)

      Anyone got a pic to illustrate this? I can't really believe a star to be that visibly large.

      Voilà [wikipedia.org]. It looks that large, apparently, because it's about 100 light years across.

  • how can it be considered a baby galaxy stripped of its outer stars when it's INSIDE our OWN galaxy? perhaps black holes and globular clusters are just an innate feature of all (or most) galaxies already?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PhxBlue (562201)
      I imagine the speculation goes something like this: The dwarf galaxy that is now Omega Centauri collided with the Milky Way, which cannibalized most of the dwarf's stars and sent its star-forming nebulae into the intergalactic void. All that was left of the dwarf was a massive globular cluster.
  • 40,000 sun masses isn't big. Look at this baby: http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/03/18-billion-suns.html [dailygalaxy.com] That black hole is as big as some galaxies, and it is still happily gobbling up additional suns. Good we are nowhere near it.
  • I lived in a dark rural area of the Southern Hemisphere, and let me tell you, I have never seen anything in the night sky even approaching the size of the full moon...
  • First article listed here:
    http://arxiv.org/find/all/1/all:+noyola/0/1/0/all/0/1 [arxiv.org]

    If that doesn't work type "Noyola" without quotes into the "Search or Article-Id" field at the top right
    http://arxiv.org/ [arxiv.org]

To thine own self be true. (If not that, at least make some money.)

Working...