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Fast-moving stars around an intermediate-mass black hole in Omega Centauri

Häberle, M, Neumayer, N, Seth, A, Bellini, A, Libralato, M, Baumgardt, H, Whitaker, M, Dumont, A, Cuello, MA, Anderson, J, Clontz, C, Kacharov, N, Kamann, S, Feldmeier-Krause, A, Milone, A, Nitschai, MS, Pechetti, R and van de Ven, G Fast-moving stars around an intermediate-mass black hole in Omega Centauri. Nature. ISSN 0028-0836

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Black holes have been found over a wide range of masses, from stellar remnants with masses of 5-150 solar masses (Msun), to those found at the centers of galaxies with M>105 Msun. However, only a few debated candidate black holes exist between 150 and 105 Msun. Determining the population of these intermediate-mass black holes is an important step towards understanding supermassive black hole formation in the early universe. Several studies have claimed the detection of a central black hole in ω Centauri, the Milky Way's most massive globular cluster. However, these studies have been questioned due to the possible mass contribution of stellar mass black holes, their sensitivity to the cluster center, and the lack of fast-moving stars above the escape velocity. Here we report observations of seven fast-moving stars in the central 3 arcseconds (0.08 pc) of ω Centauri. The velocities of the fast-moving stars are significantly higher than the expected central escape velocity of the star cluster, so their presence can only be explained by being bound to a massive black hole. From the velocities alone, we can infer a firm lower limit of the black hole mass of ∼8,200 Msun, making this a compelling candidate for an intermediate-mass black hole in the local universe.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: astro-ph.GA; astro-ph.GA
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: Nature Research
Related URLs:
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 21 May 2024 15:29
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2024 14:45
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/23311
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