|Observation data (J2000 epoch)|
|Right ascension||3h 19m 51.5s|
|Declination||+41° 34′ 25″|
|Type||Lenticular galaxy, peculiar galaxy|
|Number of stars||~25 billion|
|Apparent magnitude (V)||14.7|
|PGC 012434, LGG 088|
NGC 1277 is a lenticular galaxy in the constellation of Perseus. It is a member of the Perseus Cluster of galaxies and is located approximately 220 million light years from the Milky Way. It has a visual magnitude of 14.7. It was discovered on December 4, 1875 by Lawrence Parsons, 4th Earl of Rosse.
NGC 1277 has been called a "relic of the early universe" because its stars formed during a roughly 100 million year interval 12 billion years ago, when the universe was only about 2 billion years old. After this burst of star formation, a thousand times the rate of star formation in our own Milky Way galaxy, this generation process shut off, leaving NGC 1277 populated with metal-rich stars about 7 billion years older than our Sun.
Supermassive black hole
According to one group, who made observations using the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at Texas's McDonald Observatory, the motions of the stars near the center of this galaxy imply the presence of a black hole with a mass of about 17 billion solar masses, equivalent to 14% of the total stellar mass of the galaxy. This would make the black hole in NGC 1277 one of the largest known, in relation to the mass of its host galaxy.
A second study, based on the same data and published the following year, reached a very different conclusion: the black hole is not particularly overmassive, estimated at between 2 and 5 billion solar masses with 5 billion being the most likely value. This represents less than a third of its previously estimated mass and indeed models with no black hole at all were found to provide reasonably good fits to the data, including the central region.
- "NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database". Results for NGC 1277. Retrieved November 29, 2012.
- Christopher Crockett (3 January 2014). "Relic of early universe found nearby". Science News.
- "Discovery of a "Relic" Galaxy, Frozen in Time". National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. 30 December 2013.
- van den Bosch, Remco C. E. et al. (29 Nov 2012). "An over-massive black hole in the compact lenticular galaxy NGC 1277". Nature 491 (7426): 729–731. arXiv:1211.6429. Bibcode:2012Natur.491..729V. doi:10.1038/nature11592. Retrieved 29 Nov 2012.
- Emsellem, Eric (Aug 2013). "Is the black hole in NGC 1277 really overmassive?". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 433 (3): 1862–1870. arXiv:1305.3630. Bibcode:2013MNRAS.433.1862E. doi:10.1093/mnras/stt840.