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Star swallowed up by a new type of black hole

Jun 18 2018

HST image in the visible range of the field of view. The cross centred on a massive star cluster indicates the position of the source, located 12.5 kpc from a lenticular galaxy. © HST, Aladin@CDS

Using data from ESA's XMM-Newton observatory1, an international team including researchers from IRAP (CNRS/CNES/Université Toulouse III-Paul Sabatier) and the Strasbourg Astronomical Observatory (CNRS/Université de Strasbourg) has discovered a new type of black hole, known as an intermediate-mass black hole (a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of times the mass of the Sun), while it was swallowing up the remains of a star passing nearby. This black hole represents a missing link that has long escaped observation by astronomers, and which could explain the formation of the supermassive black holes (a few million to a few billion times the mass of the Sun) found at the centre of galaxies such as the Milky Way.These findings are published in Nature Astronomy dated 18 June 2018.

1The researchers used data from ESA’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s Chandra and Neil Gehrels Swift X-ray observatories, as well as images taken by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the Subaru Telescope, the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR), and the Gemini Observatory



A luminous X-ray outburst from an intermediate-mass black hole in an off-centre star cluster. Dacheng Lin, Jay Strader, Eleazar R. Carrasco, Dany Page, Aaron J. Romanowsky, Jeroen Homan, Jimmy A. Irwin, Ronald A. Remillard, Olivier Godet, Natalie A. Webb, Holger Baumgardt, Rudy Wijnands, Didier Barret, Pierre-Alain Duc, Jean P. Brodie and Stephen D. J. Gwyn. Nature Astronomy, 18 June 2018. DOI : 10.1038/s41550-018-0493-1




Contacts :


CNRS researchers


Didier Barret | T + 33 (0)5 61 55 85 61 / +33 (0)6 89 70 01 47 |


Pierre-Alain Duc | T + 33 (0)3 68 85 24 45‬ |




Researchers at Université de Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier


Nathalie Webb | T +33 (0)5 61 55 75 70 / + 33 (0)6 26 91 59 09 |


Olivier Godet l T + 33(0)5 61 55 75 36 / + 33 (0)6 19 02 50 51 l




CNRS Press Office | Alexiane Agullo l T +33 (0)1 44 96 43 90 |



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