How to Build a Supermassive Black HoleNASA astronomer Kim Weaver has got that sinking feeling. You know, it's that unsettling notion you get when you sift through your X-ray data and, to your surprise, find mid-sized black holes sinking toward the center of a galaxy, where they merge with others to form a single supermassive black hole. Could such a thing be true? These would be the largest mergers since America On Line bought Time-Warner, and perhaps even more violent. The process would turn a starburst galaxy inside out, making it more like a quasar host galaxy. Using the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, Weaver saw a hint of this fantastic process in a relatively nearby starburst galaxy named NGC 253 in the constellation Sculptor. She noticed that starburst galaxies - those gems set aglow in a colorful life cycle of hyperactive star birth, death, and renewal - seem to have a higher concentration of mid-mass black holes compared to other galaxies.
Wanjek, Christopher (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
August 21, 2013
January 1, 2003
Publication: Space Science Reference Guide, 2nd Edition