Scientists have expressed their confusion that a presumed black hole -- which was estimated to be so big that it was characterized as "supermassive" and considered one of the largest known examples of the mysterious space phenomenon in the universe -- appears to not exist after all.
According to Science Alert, the specific region of space that houses the new scientific mystery is Abell 2261. It is known as a galaxy cluster, i.e. one of the most gravitationally dense regions in the universe. As its namesake would suggest, galaxy clusters are groups of hundreds or even thousands of galaxies that are gravitationally bound to one another. Usually, one particularly large and bright galaxy sits at the center and is known as the "brightest cluster galaxy" or BCG.
Abell 2261's BCG has the largest galactic core known to scientists and its diameter alone is a million light-years -- a full ten times the size of the Milky Way's.
At the center of galaxies is almost always a black hole, and researchers at NASA had calculated that Abell 2261 would center around a black hole that weighed between three billion and 100 billion solar masses.
However, despite its presumed massive size and density, several research teams have been unable to find any evidence of it. While most black holes would create a ring of radiation around themselves, this BCG is instead filled with fog and bright starlight. The findings remain consistent among several teams and telescopes around the world, including the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Very Large Array and the Hubble Space Telescope.
In other words, either the black hole is managing to evade detection or it simply does not exist.
If the former, it is possible that the black hole is simply not "feeding" and therefore undetectable to current scientific instruments.
However, if it is the latter, it is possible that the missing black hole was ejected from the cluster in a phenomenon that has only been hypothesized about and never actually documented. This would be particularly exciting to scientists because it would suggest that two large black holes actually merged together.
Though smaller ones have merged, it is unknown whether larger black holes can combine due to something called the final parsec problem. A simplified explanation of the final parsec problem is that within one parsec, there is no more material for either black hole to absorb to get closer to one another.
In other intergalactic news, an Israeli general recently made headlines after alleging that a Galactic Federation of Aliens not only existed, but has been in contact with the both the United States and Israel, per The Inquisitr.