News of the WeekAmerican Astronomical Society 214th Meeting, 7–11 June 2009, Pasadena, California

Dark-Matter Model Multiplies Mass of Galactic Black Holes

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Science  19 Jun 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5934, pp. 1503
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_1503a

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Distant quasars harbor at their centers black holes as massive as 10 billion suns. The black holes in the middle of nearby galaxies are featherweights by comparison. Why the difference? According to new research presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting, astronomers may have been systematically underestimating nearby black hole masses by a factor of two to three. The finding is likely to make astrophysicists rethink how galaxies form around black holes.