The First Galaxy Without One Or The Smallest Black Hole Yet?
Posted: Monday, July 23, 2001
NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Rutgers astronomers have made a provocative discovery -- the first galaxy without a supermassive black hole (SBH) at its center or the smallest black hole ever detected in the center of a galaxy. They used the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the galaxy M33, one of the nearest neighbors to the Milky Way galaxy at a relatively short distance of 3 million light-years. By using Hubble's high-resolution instruments, the investigators were able to see details at a scale that is at least 10 times finer than was ever possible in the past from the ground.
A paper describing this research, "No Supermassive Black Hole in M33?" by Professor David Merritt, Assistant Professor Laura Ferrarese and Assistant Research Professor Charles Joseph, all of Rutgers' department of physics and astronomy, is being published online by the journal Science, as part of the Science Express web site, on July 19. (See http://www.sciencexpress.org)
Merritt, who leads the Supermassive Black Hole Research Group at Rutgers, is a theorist who has worked extensively on the interaction of black holes with galaxies; Ferrarese discovered two of the first supermassive black holes external to the Milky Way; and Joseph is a key member of Hubble's Instrument Development Team for the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, the instrument used for the observations on which the current research was based.
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