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."
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