Black holes are notoriously difficult to find as they do not emit any electromagnetic radiation, and astronomers have yet to even take an image of one. Yet experts have discovered that one of the mysterious entities is roaming through our galaxy, devouring everything in its wake. In a new paper published on peer-reviewed science journal arXiv, astronomers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) claim to have found a black hole with 32,000 times the mass of our sun wandering near the centre of the Milky Way.
The black hole is around 20 light-years from the centre of our galaxy and was found using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope.
Astronomers first noticed something strange when a stream of molecular gas was orbiting an invisible object – most likely a black hole.
Astrophysicist Shunya Takekawa of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) told New Scientist: “When I checked the ALMA data for the first time.
“I was really excited because the observed gas showed obvious orbital motions, which strongly suggest an invisible massive object lurking.”
Similar clouds of molecular gas have previously been observed, but they were concluded to have been a result of collisions between supernova clouds.
The difference between them and the new invisible object, dubbed HCN–0.009–0.044, is that the current one shows no evidence has been found suggesting there is an expansion pattern associated with supernova cloud collisions.
The team write in their paper: “Our results provide new circumstantial evidences for a wandering intermediate-mass black hole in the Galactic centre, suggesting also that high-velocity compact clouds can be probes of quiescent black holes abound in our Galaxy.
“High-resolution observations of compact high-velocity gas features have the potential to increase the number of candidates for non-luminous black holes, providing a new perspective to search for the missing black holes.”