Ten of thousands of black holes have been discovered lurking around the centre of our home galaxy, the Milky Way— and the finding hints at a much larger number of black holes hidden across the galaxy. The scientists who have discovered a dozen of them have lent support to a decades-old prediction. For over two decades, researchers have searched unsuccessfully for evidence to support a theory that thousands of black holes surround supermassive black holes (SMBHs) at the centre of large galaxies.
For years, researchers have known that a monster black hole sits in the middle of the galaxy that goes by the name Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*). Sgr A* is a compact object that is more than four million times as massive as our sun, but it’s packed into a region of space no bigger than the distance between Earth and our star. And now, by their latest observations, they have concluded that there must be at least 10,000 isolated black holes in the area surrounding Sgr A*.
“The Milky Way is really the only galaxy we have where we can study how supermassive black holes interact with little ones because we simply can’t see their interactions in other galaxies,” said Chuck Hailey, from Columbia University in the US. (As per reported by PTI)
For the uninitiated, Sgr A* is surrounded by a halo of gas and dust that provides the perfect breeding ground for the birth of massive stars, which live, die and could turn into black holes there.
Furthermore, black holes that are outside the halo are believed to fall under the influence of the SMBH as they lose their energy, causing them to be pulled into the vicinity of the SMBH, where they are held captive by its force. While most of the trapped black holes remain isolated, few of them capture and bind to a passing star, forming a stellar binary.