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Second Largest Black Hole in Milky Way Disguised Itself as a Gas Cloud


A team of astronomers has spotted what they called the second largest black hole in the Milky Way galaxy.

Some 200 light years from the galaxy's center, the astronomers noticed a strange gas cloud they named CO-0.40-0.22, reported. The cloud had an elliptical shape and was generating winds at varying speeds, allowing them to determine it was not a supernova, as well as other objects.

Published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters, the new study detailed how CO-0.40-0.22 most resembled a black hole.

"Considering the fact that no compact objects are seen in X-ray or infrared observations," study lead author Tomoharu Oka, a professor at Keio University in Japan, said in a press release. "As far as we know, the best candidate for the compact massive object is a black hole."

The researchers used the Nobeyama 45-meter radio telescope to find the black hole, which could introduce a new method for seeking out black holes. CO-0.40-0.22 is also quite possibly the first "intermediate mass" black hole.

"Investigations of gas motion with radio telescopes may provide a complementary way to search for dark black holes," Oka said. "The on-going wide area survey observations of the Milky Way with the Nobeyama 45-m Telescope and high-resolution observations of nearby galaxies using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have the potential to increase the number of black hole candidates dramatically."

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