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Research and Science

Smallest Galaxies Hosting Monster Black Holes: Study

Astronomers find wandering massive black holes in dwarf galaxies.



Artist’s conception of a dwarf galaxy, its shape distorted, most likely by a past interaction with another galaxy, and a massive black hole in its outskirts (pullout). The black hole is drawing in material that forms a rotating disk and generates jets of material propelled outward. Credit: Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

MONTANA (United States): Astronomers have discovered some of the smallest galaxies known to host massive black holes, findings which may reveal how such regions of space exhibiting ultrahigh gravitational force — that even light cannot escape from — formed in the early universe.

The study, published in the Astrophysical Journal, found 13 massive black holes, about 4,00,000 times as heavy as the Sun, in dwarf galaxies which are more than 100 times smaller than our own Milky Way.

According to the researchers, including those from Montana State University in the US, these galaxies are situated so far away that light from the Earth would take less than a billion years to reach them. “We hope that studying them and their galaxies will give us insights into how similar black holes in the early universe formed and then grew, through galactic mergers over billions of years, producing the supermassive black holes we see in larger galaxies today, with masses of many millions or billions of times that of the Sun,” said study co-author Amy Reines of Montana State University.

The scientists used the Very Large Array (VLA), a radio astronomy observatory located in central New Mexico in the US, to make the discovery. Previously in 2011, Reines and her colleagues used VLA to discover the first massive black hole in a dwarf starburst galaxy in 2011. Following this finding, the scientists started by choosing a sample of galaxies from the NASA-Sloan Atlas — a catalog of galaxies made with visible-light telescopes.

They selected galaxies with stars totalling less than 3 billion times the mass of the Sun. From this pool of galaxies, they picked ones which appeared in the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty centimeters (FIRST) survey — an astronomical survey of the skies above the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere made using the VLA between 1993 and 2011.

The scientists then made more sensitive, high-resolution images of 111 of the selected galaxies. “The new VLA observations revealed that 13 of these galaxies have strong evidence for a massive black hole that is actively consuming surrounding material. We were very surprised to find that, in roughly half of those 13 galaxies, the black hole is not at the center of the galaxy, unlike the case in larger galaxies,”

Reines said. Based on the findings, the astronomers suggested that the galaxies may have merged with others earlier in their history.

They found this inference to be consistent with computer simulations predicting that roughly half of the massive black holes in dwarf galaxies were found wandering in the outskirts of their galaxies.

“This work has taught us that we must broaden our searches for massive black holes in dwarf galaxies beyond their centers to get a more complete understanding of the population and learn what mechanisms helped form the first massive black holes in the early universe,” Reines said.

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Covaxin, India’s First COVID-19 Vaccine Gets DCGI Approval For Human Trials

This marks the first regulatory approval for India’s domestic vaccine to enter trials.



HYDERABAD (Telangana): India-based biotechnology company Bharat Biotech has secured regulatory approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to advance its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Covaxin, into human clinical trials.

The Drug Controller General of India CDSCO (The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare granted permission to initiate Phase I & II Human clinical trials after the company submitted results generated from pre-clinical studies, demonstrating safety and immune response. Human clinical trials are scheduled to start across India in July 2020, the release said.

This marks the first regulatory approval for India’s domestic vaccine to enter trials. DCGI’s approval will enable the company to conduct Phase I and II studies, which are set to begin next month.

Covaxin has been developed in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research’s National Institute of Virology. The inactivated vaccine was manufactured in Bharat Biotech’s facility at Genome Valley in Hyderabad, India.

Bharat Biotech chairman and managing director Krishna Ella said: “We are proud to announce ‘Covaxin’, India’s first indigenous vaccine against Covid-19.

“The collaboration with ICMR and NIV was instrumental in the development of this vaccine. The proactive support and guidance from CDSCO have enabled approvals to this project.”

Bharat Biotech’s track record in developing vero cell culture platform technologies has been proven in several vaccines for Polio, Rabies, Rotavirus, Japanese Encephalitis, Chikungunya and Zika. The company is proficient in conducting extensive multi-centre clinical trials, having completed more than 75 trials in over 300,000 subjects globally, the release said.

In April this year, Bharat Biotech partnered with FluGen and University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW-Madison) to develop and evaluate a Covid-19 vaccine candidate, CoroFlu.

CoroFlu will be administered intranasally with an aim to induce multiple immune responses.

Later in May, Bharat Biotech entered into an exclusive agreement to develop a Covid-19 vaccine candidate created at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, US.

Thomas Jefferson professor developed this vaccine candidate in January using an existing deactivated rabies vaccine as a vehicle for coronavirus proteins.

Besides Bharat Biotech, at least five other Indian companies are working on a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus while similar efforts are underway in different countries.

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DRDO Develops ‘Ultra Swachh’ To Disinfect Wide Range Of Materials Including PPEs

Ultra Swachh uses an advanced oxidative process by using Ozonated Space Technology for the disinfection process.



GHAZIABAD (Uttar Pradesh): Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a disinfection unit named Ultra Swachh to disinfect a wide range of materials, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), electronics items, fabrics, etc.

Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS), the Delhi based laboratory of DRDO has developed this product with industry partner M/s Gel Craft Healthcare Private Ltd, Ghaziabad.

The system uses an advanced oxidative process comprising of multiple ‘barrier disruption approach’ using Ozonated Space Technology for disinfection.

The system is double layered with specialised Ozone sealant technology assuring trapping of ozone for the necessary disinfection cycle.

It also has a catalytic converter to ensure environment-friendly exhaust i.e. only oxygen and water.

The system is in compliance with International Standards of Industrial, Occupational, Personal and Environmental Safety. The Ultra Swachh comes in two variants namely Ozonated Space and Trinetra Technology.

Trinetra technology is a combination of Ozonated space and radical dispenser. Treatment is optimised with automation for quick disinfection cycle.

The system operates on 15 Ampere, 220 Volts, 50 Hertz power supply. The system has been provided with various safety features such as emergency shutdown, door interlocks, dual door, delay cycle, and leak monitors, etc to ensure safe operations for a longer duration.

Dimensions of the Industrial Cabinet are 7’x4’x3.25’ to disinfect large quantity at a time. Cabinets of different sizes will be available for the industry.

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Research and Science

Astrophysicists Capture A New Class Of Transient Objects

FBOT is basically a type of cosmic explosion that was initially detected in the optical wavelength.



ILLINOIS (United States): A new astronomical transient that is faster, brighter, and heavier at radio wavelengths than its mysterious predecessors has been captured in the universe by the astrophysicists.

After astronomers visually spotted a bright burst in a tiny galaxy 500 million lightyears away from Earth in 2016, a Northwestern University-led team has determined that the anomaly is the third fast blue optical transient (FBOT) ever captured in radio- and X-ray wavelengths.

A highly luminous family of cosmic explosions, FBOTs have a track record for surprising astronomers with their fast, energetic, powerful bursts of energy.

As their name implies, transients fade almost as quickly as they appear. Perhaps the most famous FBOT is AT2018COW (“The Cow”) — a rare event that appeared to be the birth of a black hole or a neutron star.

But the newly identified FBOT, called CRTS-CSS161010 J045834-081803 or CSS161010 for short, has vastly overshadowed the Cow with the sheer speeds and heaviness of its material outflows.

The newly identified FBOT which is called CRTS-CSS161010 J045834-081803 or CSS161010, in short, has vastly overshadowed the previously discovered FBOT “The Cow” with the heaviness and sheer speed of its material outflows.

It has, in fact, produced some kind of fastest outflows in nature launching particles and gas at more than 55% the speed of the light. Its fastest outflows have been documented as the heaviest for its class.

Northwester’s Deanne Coppejans, the first author of the study states that this was unexpected. Energetic explosions are known that can eject the material at almost the speed of the light, especially gamma-ray bursts, but they launch only a small amount of mass- that is 1 millionth of the sun.

CSS161010 has launched 1 to 10 per cent the mass of the sun at more than half the speed of light which shows that this is a new class of transient.

Before astronomers spotted CSS161010, they had not noticed the tiny galaxy in which it resided. The amazingly bright FBOT drew attention to a dwarf galaxy near the constellation Eridanus, which is shaped like a river in the southern celestial hemisphere.

The host galaxy contains about 10 million stars, whereas the Milky Way comprises billions. With remote access to the Keck telescopes in Hawaii, the Northwestern researchers were able to glimpse the tiny galaxy, which looked like nothing more than a small smudge.

So far, astronomers have only found bright FBOTs like CSS161010 and the Cow in these tiny galaxies, which gives a clue into their nature.

The amount of metals affects how much mass stars lose throughout their lifetimes in the form of stellar wind. A star without metals can potentially retain more of its mass, producing a bigger explosion at the end of its life.

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