- [*] A massive black hole at the centre of the quiescent galaxy M32
- van der Marel R.P., de Zeeuw P.T., Rix H.W., Quinlan G.D.
- Nature, 385, 610-612, 1997
- © 1997. Macmillan Magazines Ltd.
All Rights Reserved.
this paper in the ADS
Massive black holes are thought to reside at the centres of many
galaxies, where they power quasars and active galactic nuclei. But
most galaxies are quiescent, indicating that any central massive black
hole present will be starved of fuel and therefore detectable only
through its gravitational influence on the motions of the surrounding
stars. M32 is a nearby, quiescent elliptical galaxy in which the
presence of a black hole has been suspected; however, the limited
resolution of the observational data and the restricted classes of
models used to interpret this data have made it difficult to rule out
alternative explanations, such as models with an anisotropic stellar
velocity distribution and no dark mass or models with a central
concentration of dark objects (for example, stellar remnants or brown
dwarfs). Here we present space-based high-resolution optical spectra
of M32, which show that the stellar velocities near the centre of this
galaxy exceed those inferred from previous ground-based
observations. We use a range of general dynamical models to determine
a central dark mass concentration of (3.4 +/- 1.6) x 10^6 solar
masses, contained within a region only 0.3 pc across. This leaves a
massive black hole as the most plausible explanation of the data,
thereby strengthening the view that such black holes exist even in
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