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CITY BOFFIN DISCOVERS BLACK HOLE; Scientific breakthrough made at uni.

Byline: Kat Keogh

A UNIVERSITY of Birmingham boffin has made a breakthrough discovery in a galaxy far, far away.

Star-gazing scientists have found a black hole - the first of its kind to be discovered outside our immediate galaxy. The "garden variety" black hole was detected by a team of international astronomers supervised by Dr Somak Raychaudhury, director of the university's Observatory. It was found using NASA technology in the Centaurus A galaxy, which is more than 12 million light years away -

According to theory, black holes should exist everywhere in the universe. There is a supermassive one at the heart of each large galaxy, weighing at least a million times that of the sun.

There are also millions of ordinary ones, only a few times the mass of the sun, sprinkled throughout each galaxy.

But black holes are notoriously difficult to detect as they don't emit light. And ordinary garden variety black holes - which are as massive as ordinary stars - are harder still to spot, because they are more faint.

Dr Raychaudhury said: "This is a discovery similar to finding planets around other stars.

"Everybody knew they existed, but finding them outside our solar system was very exciting, since it proved that other stars are like our sun.

"Finding an ordinary black hole in other galaxies shows our own galaxy, the Milky Way, isn't peculiar.

"It paves the way for us to start looking for potential black holes elsewhere, starting with hundreds of bright X-ray sources we have observed in the Centaurus A galaxy."

The discovery was made as part of a two-month collaboration involving academics from universities in the USA, Canada, South America and Europe.

CAPTION(S):

Exciting: Dr Somak Raychaudhury, director of the uni's Observatory. NASA technology: A "garden variety" black hole in Centaurus A galaxy, which is more than 12 million light years away - a discovery made by a team led by academics from the University of Birmingham.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 9, 2012
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