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New class of black hole discovered

A new class of black hole, more than 500 times the mass of the sun, has been discovered by an international team of astronomers.

world Updated: Jul 02, 2009 17:39 IST

A new class of black hole, more than 500 times the mass of the sun, has been discovered by an international team of astronomers.

The finding in a distant galaxy approximately 290 million light years from Earth is reported on Thursday in the journal Nature.

Until now, identified black holes have been either super-massive (several million to several billion times the mass of the Sun) in the centre of galaxies, or about the size of a typical star (between three and 20 solar masses).

The new discovery is the first solid evidence of a new class of medium-sized black holes.

The team, led by astrophysicists at the Centre d'Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements in France, detected the new black hole with the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton X-ray space telescope.

"While it is widely accepted that stellar mass black holes are created during the death throes of massive stars, it is still unknown how super-massive black holes are formed," says the lead author of the paper, Dr Sean Farrell, now based at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester.