NASA astrophysicists claim that there is nothing where a supermassive black hole should be.
Astronomers have spotted a distant cluster of galaxies without an expected supermassive black hole in the center — even though its mass should be 3 to 100 billion times that of the Sun. According to observations made between 1999 and 2004, the black hole is theoretically located in the galaxy cluster Abell 2261, about 2.7 billion light-years from Earth.
More recently, astronomers from West Virginia University used the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope to survey the area, but were unable to find this black hole.
Almost every large galaxy in the known universe contains a supermassive black hole at its center. The more massive the galaxy, the larger the black hole. In fact, this particular black hole was predicted to be one of the largest in the history of observations.
Scientists believe the black hole could have been ejected from its parent galaxy by the merger of two galaxies to form one even more massive galaxy, also known as a “receding black hole.
Alternatively, the corresponding black holes of the two galaxies could have merged into one even larger supermassive black hole, creating a giant nucleus at the center of the resulting megalaxy. Although this phenomenon has not yet been directly observed involving black holes of this magnitude, astronomers have observed mergers involving black holes of significantly smaller size.
The results are published in the journal American Astronomical Society.