NGC 1277 as seen by Hubble
|Observation data (J2000 epoch)|
|Right ascension||3h 19m 51.5s|
|Declination||+41° 34′ 25″|
|Apparent magnitude (V)||14.7|
|Type||Lenticular galaxy, peculiar galaxy|
|Number of stars||~25 billion|
|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 ×1010 M☉1.7 (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. Nevertheless, it still remains as one of the most massive black holes ever discovered, at 29.6 billion kilometers in diameter - almost five times the distance from the Sun to Pluto.
- "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: . 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: . Bibcode:2013MNRAS.433.1862E. doi:10.1093/mnras/stt840.