Runaway Supermassive Black Hole Discovered at Galatic Center, Offering Insight into Extreme Environments

Astronomers from the UCLA Galactic Center Group and the Keck Observatory have uncovered the existence of an incredible supermassive black hole in an extremely active galaxy. The runaway black hole, dubbed X7, is estimated to measure 20 million times the mass of the Sun and is speeding away from its home galaxy at an incredible 3.5 million mph (5.6 million km/h).[0]

The team made the discovery when they noticed a bright streak of light while using the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the dwarf galaxy RCP 28, located about 7.5 billion light-years from Earth.[1] Subsequent observations indicated that the streak is longer than 200,000 light-years, which is almost twice the size of the Milky Way. It is believed to be composed of compressed gas which is in the process of creating stars.[2]

Lead author of the study, Anna Ciurlo, said in a statement: “This is a unique chance at observing the effects of the black hole’s tidal forces at high-resolution, giving us insight into the physics of the Galactic Center’s extreme environment.”[3]

The researchers believe that the black hole could have been ejected due to a galactic merger where a third black hole ousted this one.[0] An illustration shows that two black holes become a binary pair before a third black hole enters the galaxy, disrupting the balance and sending one black hole flying into intergalactic space.[2]

According to Ryan Endsley, Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of Texas at Austin and lead author of the paper, the results provide the first direct evidence that supermassive black holes in the early universe were often heavily obscured by dust, possibly due to their galaxies' intense star formation activity – an idea which has been suggested for a few years. He added, “These results suggest that very early supermassive black holes were often heavily obscured by dust, perhaps as a consequence of the intense star formation activity in their host galaxies. This is something others have been predicting for a few years now, and it’s really nice to see the first direct observational evidence supporting this scenario.”[4]

Images captured with Keck Observatory's NIRC2 instrument and adaptive optics show X7's evolution between 2002-2021.[3] The researchers estimate that X7 will make its closest approach to Sgr A* around the year 2036, then dissipate completely soon after.[5] The gas and dust constituting X7 will eventually get dragged toward the black hole and may later cause some fireworks as it heats up and spirals into it.[6]

This discovery is providing astronomers with a valuable opportunity to study the extreme tidal forces at the centre of the galaxy.[6]

0. “Black hole the size of 20,000,000 suns found speeding through space” Metro UK, 23 Feb. 2023,

1. “Astronomers found a ‘runaway' black hole as wide as 20 million suns” BGR, 23 Feb. 2023,

2. “‘Runaway' black hole the size of 20 million suns found speeding through space with a trail of newborn stars behind it” Yahoo Life, 21 Feb. 2023,

3. “The Milky Way's monster black hole is destroying a mysterious dust cloud”, 23 Feb. 2023,

4. “A new discovery has shed light on early black hole formation” Innovation News Network, 24 Feb. 2023,

5. “Mysterious cloud approaching supermassive black hole at our galaxy's center” Devdiscourse, 24 Feb. 2023,

6. “Astronomers observe peculiar cloud getting spaghettified at galaxy core” News9 LIVE, 24 Feb. 2023,

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