Millimetre-wave emission from an intermediate-mass black hole candidate in the Milky Way

Tomoharu Oka, Shiho Tsujimoto, Yuhei Iwata, Mariko Nomura, Shunya Takekawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


It is widely accepted that black holes with masses greater than a million solar masses (M ·) lurk at the centres of massive galaxies. The origins of such 'supermassive' black holes (SMBHs) remain unknown 1, although those of stellar-mass black holes are well understood. One possible scenario is that intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs), which are formed by the runaway coalescence of stars in young compact star clusters 2, merge at the centre of a galaxy to form a SMBH 3. Although many candidates for IMBHs have been proposed, none is accepted as definitive. Recently, we discovered a peculiar molecular cloud, CO-0.40-0.22, with an extremely broad velocity width, near the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. Based on the careful analysis of gas kinematics, we concluded that a compact object with a mass of about 105 M · is lurking in this cloud 4. Here we report the detection of a point-like continuum source as well as a compact gas clump near the centre of CO-0.40-0.22. This point-like continuum source (CO-0.40-0.22∗) has a wide-band spectrum consistent with 1/500 of the Galactic SMBH (Sgr A∗) in luminosity. Numerical simulations around a point-like massive object reproduce the kinematics of dense molecular gas well, which suggests that CO-0.40-0.22∗is one of the most promising candidates for an intermediate-mass black hole.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-712
Number of pages4
JournalNature Astronomy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jul 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


Dive into the research topics of 'Millimetre-wave emission from an intermediate-mass black hole candidate in the Milky Way'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this