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Black hole shoved aside, along with 'central' dogma

Something pushed supermassive object off a galaxy's bull's-eye

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4:26pm, May 25, 2010

MIAMI — Supermassive black holes are shiftier beasts than astronomers suspected. A new analysis reveals that the giant black hole at the core of the highly studied galaxy M87 somehow got displaced about 22 light-years from the galaxy’s center.

“This result signals a necessary shift in the supermassive black hole paradigm,” said Daniel Batcheldor of the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. The prevalence of off-center black holes “could represent a significant change in our understanding of supermassive black holes, galaxies and the ways in which they may interact with each other,” he added.

Sorting through old Hubble Space Telescope observations of M87’s core, Batcheldor and his colleagues found that the giant black hole there doesn’t lie smack-dab at the galaxy’s center, as would be expected for an object weighing the equivalent of about 6 billion suns. The displacement could be a signpost of a

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