16 FEBRUARY (UPI) — The European Southern Observatory announced on Wednesday that it had discovered a supermassive black hole hidden in a ring of cosmic dust in an active galaxy.
The galaxy is about 47 million light-years away from Earth, in the constellation Cetus, according to a new study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
The findings « confirm predictions made around 30 years ago and are giving astronomers new insight into ‘active galactic nuclei’ (AGN), some of the brightest and most enigmatic objects in the universe, » according to the observatory.
The observations, made with the ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer in northern Chile, shed new light on galaxies with active galactic nuclei at their core.
AGNs are a compact region of space at the center of galaxies that makes them much brighter than other galaxies.
« Our findings should lead to a better understanding of the inner workings of AGNs, » said Violeta Gámez Rosas, the study’s lead author from the Netherlands, in a press release.
« They could also help us better understand the history of the Milky Way, » said Gámez Rosas, a doctoral candidate at Leiden University in the Netherlands. « The Milky Way has a supermassive black hole at its center that may have been active in the past. »