Rare galaxy with 2 black holes has 1 starved of stars

January 5, 2016 byMarcia Dunn
This image provided by CU-Boulder shows the galaxy SDSS J1126+2944 taken with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, with an arrow placed by the source pointing to a black hole that lost most of its stars. The University of Colorado's Julie Comerford has discovered something even rarer than a double-black hole galaxy: a skinny black hole. Her findings were reported Tuesday, Jan 5, 2016 at the American Astronomical Society's annual meeting. (NASA/CU-Boulder via AP)

An astrophysicist has discovered something even rarer than a double-black hole galaxy: a skinny black hole.

The University of Colorado at Boulder's Julie Comerford reported her findings Tuesday at the American Astronomical Society's annual meeting in Kissimmee, Florida.

To date, only 12 galaxies are known to exist with two in their midst, Comerford said. Normally galaxies have a single at the center, equivalent to 1 million to 1 billion times the mass of our sun.

But in this newly identified galaxy about 1 billion light-years away, one of the two black holes is significantly smaller than the other and apparently starved of stars. Black holes typically are surrounded by stars; this one appears "naked."

Comerford speculates the slim black hole lost mass in the collision of two galaxies that merged into this one —" a crash diet." Or it's a rare example of an intermediate-sized black hole that likely will morph over time into a supermassive monster.

Astronomers have yet to confirm an intermediate-size black hole, which makes Comerford's streamlined target extra tantalizing. Intermediate black holes are 100 to 1 million times the mass of our sun.

Comerford used the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in her study. She discovered this latest two-black hole galaxy—her fourth—last year. Finding a potential intermediate-size black hole inside was "an extra bonus," she told reporters.

The first double-black hole galaxy was found in 2003 by accident, according to Comerford. She is trying to systematically uncover more. The findings should shed light on the evolution of black holes.

This particular galaxy is catalogued as SDSS J1126+2944.

Explore further: Chandra finds supermassive black hole burping nearby

More information: American Astronomical Society: aas.org/meetings/aas227

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1 / 5 (1) Jan 05, 2016
merry christmas to you too. crash diet, indeed.. ;)
2.5 / 5 (2) Jan 05, 2016
Maybe stuff buried in those holes can be coaxed.....out by a BIGGER supermassive hole....about the size of my ex daughter in law..lol. Just may be one such starvin' Marvin will become unstable a la Hawking and ......explode!!
5 / 5 (5) Jan 06, 2016
What each black hole's mass is would of been nice to include. Interesting article nonetheless.
5 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2016
If you write such a post and show the pic, wouldn't you explain what the pink regions represent?
1 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2016
Black holes typically are surrounded by stars; this one appears "naked."

Or this naked one is actually grown bigger and more active than the companion, expelling more new gas in all directions whereby nearby stars simply can no longer form. I consider this another likely example of a naked core star, though LaViolette would disagree calling it an outward propagating superwave of cosmic rays.


Jan 24, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 08, 2016
LaViolette has now commented on this story.


He suggests this another example of the core fissioning process, spawning the second core. And he notes that there is no evidence that the naked core is surrounded by the stars of an incoming merging galaxy.

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