Mapping the rotation of a molecular gas disk around the supermassive black hole in NGC 3258

A new paper led by Benjamin Boizelle presents high-resolution ALMA observations of CO emission from the circumnuclear disk in NGC 3258. This is by far the best target we’ve found yet in our search for rotating molecular gas disks around black holes in elliptical galaxies, because we’re able to map the disk’s rotaiton deep within the black hole’s dynamical “sphere of influence” where the disk’s rotation gives a very direct measurement of the black hole mass. At 2.25 billion Solar masses, this is the largest black hole discovered yet with ALMA. You can read more about it in a press release from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, or on the ALMA news site. Phil Plait also wrote about our NGC 3258 results on his “Bad Astronomy” blog.