Letter

Nature 460, 73-75 (2 July 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08083; Received 25 August 2008; Accepted 20 April 2009

An intermediate-mass black hole of over 500 solar masses in the galaxy ESO 243-49

Sean A. Farrell1,2,4, Natalie A. Webb1,2, Didier Barret1,2, Olivier Godet3 & Joana M. Rodrigues1,2

  1. Université de Toulouse, UPS, CESR, 9 Avenue du Colonel Roche, F-31028 Toulouse Cedex 9, France
  2. CNRS, UMR5187, F-31028 Toulouse, France
  3. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK
  4. Present address: Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK.

Correspondence to: Sean A. Farrell1,2,4Natalie A. Webb1,2 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to S.A.F. (Email: saf28@star.le.ac.uk) or N.A.W. (Email: natalie.webb@cesr.fr).

Ultraluminous X-ray sources are extragalactic objects located outside the nucleus of the host galaxy with bolometric luminosities1 exceeding 1039 erg s-1. These extreme luminosities—if the emission is isotropic and below the theoretical (Eddington) limit, where the radiation pressure is balanced by the gravitational pressure—imply the presence of an accreting black hole with a mass of approx102–105 solar masses (Unfortunately we are unable to provide accessible alternative text for this. If you require assistance to access this image, or to obtain a text description, please contact npg@nature.com). The existence of such intermediate-mass black holes is in dispute, and though many candidates have been proposed, none are widely accepted as definitive. Here we report the detection of a variable X-ray source with a maximum 0.2–10 keV luminosity of up to 1.1 times 1042 erg s-1 in the edge-on spiral galaxy ESO 243-49, with an implied conservative lower limit for the mass of the black hole of approx500Unfortunately we are unable to provide accessible alternative text for this. If you require assistance to access this image, or to obtain a text description, please contact npg@nature.com.

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