Thanks to data collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, Japanese astrophysicists have announced the detection of a wandering black hole in our Milky Way.
Black Holes and Revelations, the fourth album of the British rock band Muse, was thus baptised in 2006. Thirteen years later, this title sounds like a disturbing premonition of scientific news... A team of researchers have indeed made a revelation about one of these amazing black holes: that one of them could be hiding and wandering about our Galaxy.
In an article published on the site arXiv.org, astrophysicists of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan revealed to have detected clues probably revealing the presence of a black hole, in the Milky Way. A medium-sized structure, comparable to that of Jupiter.
The invisible made visible
Invisible by nature, a potential black hole could however be unmasked thanks to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA); a set of 66 telescopes scattered in the Atacama desert in northern Chile.
"When I checked the ALMA data for the first time, I was really excited because the gases observed showed obvious orbital movements, which strongly suggests [the presence] of an invisible massive object wandering around,” reveals the lead author, Shunya Takekawa.
With the help of ALMA, the astrophysicist and his team studied two nebulae nicknamed "Balloon" and "Stream" (balloon and brook in French); in reference to their physiognomy. Uneventful for these specialists, until in May 2018, something incredible happened.
For two days, the scientists were spectators to a strange ballet performed by the gaseous clouds. These clusters seemed to be spinning around a central point, as if driven by an invisible force.
A galactic ranger
Analysing these seemingly inexplicable movements, physicists have come to the conclusion that an object as large as Jupiter and 30,000 times larger than the Sun must nestle at the centre of rotation. A central point from which no luminous ray emanated, and which could therefore only be the centre of a black hole.
"Our results provide new indirect evidence [of the presence] of a wandering middle-ground black hole in the centre of [our] galaxy," the scientists conclude in their publication. Unpublished results, whose nature now opens the way to the discovery of many other black holes. "Black Holes and Revelations", an opus whose science has for the moment written only the opening.
Check out the video above for more on these fascinating theories...