A ∼50,000 M solar mass black hole in the nucleus of RGG 118

Vivienne F. Baldassare, Amy E. Reines, Elena Gallo, Jenny E. Greene

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172 Scopus citations


Scaling relations between black hole (BH) masses and their host galaxy properties have been studied extensively over the last two decades, and point toward co-evolution of central massive BHs and their hosts. However, these relations remain poorly constrained for BH masses below ∼106 M. Here we present optical and X-ray observations of the dwarf galaxy RGG 118 taken with the Magellan Echellette Spectrograph on the 6.5 m Clay Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory. Based on Sloan Digital Sky Survey spectroscopy, RGG 118 was identified as possessing narrow emission line ratios indicative of photoionization partly due to an active galactic nucleus. Our higher resolution spectroscopy clearly reveals broad Hα emission in the spectrum of RGG 118. Using virial BH mass estimate techniques, we calculate a BH mass of ∼50,000 M. We detect a nuclear X-ray point source in RGG 118, suggesting a total accretion powered luminosity of L = 4 × 1040 erg s-1, and an Eddington fraction of ∼1%. The BH in RGG 118 is the smallest ever reported in a galaxy nucleus and we find that it lies on the extrapolation of the MBH relation to the lowest masses yet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL14
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 10 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • quasars: supermassive black holes


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