A new search led by Montana State University has revealed more than a dozen massive black holes in dwarf galaxies that were previously considered too small to host them, and surprised scientists with their location within the galaxies.

The study, headed by MSU astrophysicist Amy Reines, searched 111 dwarf galaxies within a billion light years of Earth using the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, two hours outside Albuquerque in the plains of New Mexico. Reines identified 13 galaxies that “almost certainly” host massive black holes and found something unexpected: The majority of the black holes were not in the location she anticipated.

“All of the black holes I had found before were in the centers of galaxies,” said Reines, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics in the College of Letters and Science and a researcher in MSU’s eXtreme Gravity Institute. “These were roaming around the outskirts. I was blown away when I saw this.”

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