back to article Stripped of its galaxy, this black hole is wandering naked in the cosmos

Boffins analysing old Chandra x-ray telescope data have spotted a rarity indeed: an X-ray source that seems to be a black hole, but without a galaxy to surround it. At an estimated 100,000 times the mass of the sun, the black hole in question – at the edge of lenticular galaxy SDSS J141711.07+522540.8, about 4.5 billion light …

  1. Bloodbeastterror

    If the predator black hole was powerful enough to strip the galaxy surrounding the orphan black hole, intuition suggests that it would also attract the orphan black hole itself, no?

    But what do I know? I'm just a brain surgeon... :-)

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      No, the surrunding galaxy would have been stripped by a larger galaxy nearby.

      This would eventually result in a more noisy galaxy (looking a lot more elliptical than spiral) and the massive black hole continuing to follow its path more or less hyperbolically around the center of the larger galaxy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but it can also attract it in ways that could accelerate it enough to throw it away...

    3. TitterYeNot

      "But what do I know? I'm just a brain surgeon"

      Ah, brain surgery. Not exactly rocket science, is it?

      (with apologies to Mitchell and Webb:-

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. T-Bo

      re: (untitled)

      "I'm just a brain surgeon... :-)"

      No, no, no, don't tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to.

      --- Buckaroo Banzai

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    What is its speed ?

    Can we measure that ?

    Because every simulation I have made in the Universe Simulator tells me that, when stellar objects get ejected from their orbits, they get ejected hard.

    If this thing lost a whole galaxy, it must be going at mind-boggling speeds.

  3. Bronek Kozicki

    That's not a black hole

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge


      That is the an arc ship engine, decelerating. Towards us.

      Let's see the same picture in a few months (while I dig that bunker).

      1. Michael Habel

        Re: Indeed

        It's a light speed echo of the Golgafrincham Ark Ship "B"... That has managed to catch up...

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Indeed

          Its Galactus.

          Best get our affairs in order.

          1. EL Vark

            Re: Indeed

            Or Gah-Lak-Tus, in which case it will be (poorly) written out of existence soon enough, so no worries.

      2. You aint sin me, roit

        Re: Indeed

        It's one end of a wormhole generator, powered by the contents of a whole galaxy.

        Someone decided to leave this universe...

    2. Olius

      ("That's no black hole!")

      Is it a space station?

      1. AceRimmer1980
        IT Angle

        Re: Is it a space station?

        Well it's certainly no moon.

    3. Johndoe888

      Grit. Five specks of grit on the scanner-scope. See, the thing

      about grit is, it's black, and the thing about scanner-scopes...

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Somone in a galaxy far away and long ago is having a bad day

    “Extended Groth Strip”

    With that kind of dark inside, it should have been called "Extended Goth Trip"

  5. Terje

    My guess is that it's an ongoing merger where the stars and gas have been stripped off and incorporated into the lenticular galaxy, while the process of the black hole wandering into the center is much lengthier.

  6. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Where did the galaxy go? Dunno , not being a space scientist, but I would suggest that since the blackhole is super massive, it's probably swallowed something large. Like a galaxy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That black hole is only globular cluster large.

      It is impossible for a black hole to swallow a whole galaxy, it can grow fat on lots of matter in galactic centers though.

      In this case, the stars and gas were just merged into a galaxy nearby.

      1. Bloodbeastterror

        "It is impossible for a black hole to swallow a whole galaxy"

        Can you please expand on that? Genuine question, I haven't the faintest idea. Surely a black hole sucks in everything and just continues to increase its mass? Or is there some sort of limit, in which case what happens when the limit is reached?

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Well, consider that a black hole in a galactic center just hoovers up mass nearby, i.e. gas and passing stars (which go into intersecting orbits when they come too near). The hole grows fast (indeed, it's radius is linearly related to its mass, unlike for normal objects, which then more to radius being third-root of mass) but not that fast, so for the stars outside the central bulge, it will always look like a tiny kernel of multimillion solar-mass far away and they will happily continue to whirl around the galactic center which has not changed in its gravitational nature (although it has changed in structure).

          If black holes were able to hoover up large amounts of dark matter like open drains, they might be growing seriously large indeed. This seems to not be happening, so I suppose dark matter has its own internal dynamics which keep it from the event horizon.

  7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    A gravitaional slingshot perhaps?

    The smaller black hole may have been catapulted out of its galaxy by a gravitational slingshot effect, perhaps. There are hints of double super-massive black holes in certain blazars (OJ-287 being one, the most distant object I have been able to see in my humble 8" scope, at 3.5 billion ly). The heavier one might catapult the lighter right out of the galaxy, possibly during a merger of galaxies

    Cool stuff, anyway (actually, rather hot)

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Poetry Corner ...

    I wandered lonely as a black hole,

    That floats on high o'er comets and suns.

    When all at once I saw a crowd,

    A host, of planets to capture;

    1. TitterYeNot

      Re: Poetry Corner ...

      There once was a black hole called Peter,

      Who was an extremely fast eater.

      He ate all the pies,

      Then looked up to the skies,

      And thought 'Ooh those stars, they look sweeter.'


      Ahem. No, not quite Wordsworth is it...

  9. John 110

    What a relief...

    "so I suppose dark matter has its own internal dynamics which keep it from the event horizon."

    I can stop worrying about it then. What's dark matter again?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: What a relief...

      Something which tells you it's there by a gentle, gravitational tug (direct evidence in observation and it's not MOND). But apparently nothing else (seems that even Weak Interaction is being cornered by latest null results, so likely no WIMPs)

  10. Pete4000uk

    The big question

    If black holes swallows everything where does it all go?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The big question

      "If black holes swallows everything where does it all go?"

      "I see those black trousers a looking a little tight"

  11. Thomas Wolf

    ...I think I need a break from gadgets....

    ...when I saw the title, I initially thought it was commentary on Samsung's plight....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I read that as 'extented goth strip'...

    ...and now need a dose of mind bleach.

    Back on topic, why the need for an exotic explanation re stolen galaxies? If it's inside a lenticular galaxy, perhaps it formed there - there are comfortably 100k's worth of solar masses in any segment of such a galaxy and it only needs to be seeded by a large star- and since this is 4.5 billion years ago, it's almost certainly moved to the middle since.

    /Just a thought

    //not fully informed, but not totally ignorant

    ///Arrrgh! Extended goth strips!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on

    Bright flash in the distance, not recognisable as a Galaxy anymore?

  14. JWG

    Where is it now?

    Okay, so this is where it was 4.5 billion years ago: WHERE THE EFF IS IT NOW?!?!? It's my running argument with science writers, they forget (probably on purpose), that "light years" mean "years ago" in terms of time, not just distance. So, if Chandra is just picking up the signal now, that "wandering supermassive blackhole" can be anywhere by now.

    Were there any clues as to vector or velocity? I mean, these are important facts. In 4.5 billion years, it's like somewhere else by now - it may may even be heading heading for us!!!!!! It may sound picky, but things like where a supermassive blackhole wandering around the universe might be of some concern. In terms of the age of the universe, that's a fairly short time ago (about 1/3rd the age of the universe give or take).

    When science writers "assume" even a technically savvy bunch of geeks, like most of El Reg's readers are, don't really know that distance (in light years) = time (in relation to the number of orbits our planet has made around its local star). When you look up at the night sky with your naked eyes (unless you need corrective lenses hanging off your nose) you can only see things that are, at most, a few thousand light years from where are (and they've been moving to, in relation to us). All you're seeing (even with the Hubble) are things as they were, that have already happened, you can't see the "now" of the universe. Betel Guese may have already blown up, that Wolf whatever number it is, has collapsed into a black hole and there's a huge a** gamma pulse headed for us (we won't see it coming, by the way, and if it does hit us, 90+% of everything on Earth goes bye-bye).

    We are insignificant little, oversized barely microbes in this universe, and yet we think ourselves gods that can make big changes in nature. Get over yourselves. If a tiny hurricane can destroy Florida (another reason why I'm glad I didn't live there that long, one Hurricane Andrew was enough for me). Just remember species H. Sapiens has only been around about 200,000 years (+\- 10% fudge factor). Plus, we almost didn't survive the "bottle-neck" 70,000 years ago when there were only about 1,000 mating pairs of our species left, for God only knows what reason. The universe is 13.85 billion years old, and we barely understand more than .000000000000000001% of what makes it work (sorry, didn't count the Zero's so I can be off by one or two). Yes, it's fun and interesting looking at all that stuff that happened in the past, but it's in the PAST. It took us 400 years to figure out that tobacco was bad for us. That doesn't speak too well of our supposed intelligence.

  15. swm

    If two spinning black holes collide and merge the resulting black hole can acquire a velocity that is a good fraction of the speed of light. Maybe that is what happened here and the resulting black hole just took off from its "parent" galaxy.

  16. PaulAb

    Down to earth....

    Black holes eating Galaxies!..... I'm more concerned with Pot holes eating tyres and suspension.

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