Astronomers have discovered a supermassive black hole in a dwarf galaxy, giving new clues about a very early phase of galaxy evolution that has not been observed before.
According to the astronomers, the galaxy, called Henize 2-10, 30 million light-years from Earth, has been studied for years, and is forming stars very rapidly.
This galaxy probably resembles those in the very young Universe, when galaxies were just starting to form and were colliding frequently, said Kelsey Johnson of the University of Virginia. All its properties, including the supermassive black hole, are giving us important new clues about how these black holes and galaxies formed at that time.
A dwarf galaxy is a small galaxy composed of up to several billion stars, a small number compared to Milky Way's 200-400 billion stars.
The astronomers found a region near the center of the galaxy that strongly emits radio waves with characteristics of those emitted by super-fast jets of material spewed outward from areas close to a black hole.
They also found this same, radio-bright region to be strongly emitting energetic X-rays. This combination, they said, indicates an active, black-hole-powered, galactic nucleus.
Finding a black hole a million times more massive than the Sun in a star-forming dwarf galaxy is a strong indication that supermassive black holes formed before the buildup of galaxies, the astronomers said.
This finding challenges conventional wisdom that supermassive black holes only inhabit massive galaxies with voluminous spheroidal components called bulges. and could help in understanding the origin of universe.