A supermassive black hole in an ultra-compact dwarf galaxy

Anil C. Seth*, Remco Van Den Bosch, Steffen Mieske, Holger Baumgardt, Mark Den Brok, Jay Strader, Nadine Neumayer, Igor Chilingarian, Michael Hilker, Richard McDermid, Lee Spitler, Jean Brodie, Matthias J. Frank, Jonelle L. Walsh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ultra-compact dwarf galaxies are among the densest stellar systems in the Universe. These systems have masses of up to 2 × 108 solar masses, but half-light radii of just 3-50 parsecs. Dynamical mass estimates show that many such dwarfs are more massive than expected from their luminosity. It remains unclear whether these high dynamical mass estimates arise because of the presence of supermassive black holes or result from a non-standard stellar initial mass function that causes the average stellar mass to be higher than expected. Here we report adaptive optics kinematic data of the ultra-compact dwarf galaxy M60-UCD1 that show a central velocity dispersion peak exceeding 100 kilometres per second and modest rotation. Dynamical modelling of these data reveals the presence of a supermassive black hole with a mass of 2.1 × 107 solar masses. This is 15 per cent of the object's total mass. The high black hole mass and mass fraction suggest that M60-UCD1 is the stripped nucleus of a galaxy. Our analysis also shows that M60-UCD1's stellar mass is consistent with its luminosity, implying a large population of previously unrecognized supermassive black holes in other ultra-compact dwarf galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-400
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume513
Issue number7518
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sep 2014

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