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The findings are reported in the latest issue of Nature journal.

For decades, scientists theorized that circling in the center of galaxies were lots of stellar black holes.

"Everything you'd ever want to learn about the way big black holes interact with little black holes, you can learn by studying this distribution", said lead author Chuck Hailey, co-director of the Columbia Astrophysics Lab. But astronomers hadn't seen evidence of them in the Milky Way core until now.

"In a sense, this is the only laboratory we have to study this phenomenon".

Our galaxy's supermassive black hole's entourage of smaller black holes has been spotted for the first time.

The newly confirmed black holes are about 10 times the mass of our sun.

"There hasn't been much credible evidence".

The halo of gas and dust around Sgr A is thought to provide the ideal breeding ground for massive stars which collapse into black holes when they die. Furthermore, all black holes in the nearby vicinity of Sagittarius A* are held close by its massive gravitational pull.

They searched for X-rays emitted by a subgroup of low-mass black holes that have captured a passing star in their gravitational grip, creating a "black hole binary".

In short, in the dense net of X-rays emission in the center of Milky Way, black holes were able to remain hidden in plain sight. "The galactic center is a odd place". Their calculations show that there must be several hundred more black holes paired with stars in the galactic center, and about 10,000 isolated black holes. So looking for isolated black holes is not a smart way to find them either.

"These early galaxies seem to have gone through many more "bursts" when they formed stars, instead of forming them at a relatively steady rate like our own galaxy", Sobral said in a statement.

"These stars have already expanded to a huge size to produce the gas that flows into the disk that surrounds the black hole and produces the X-rays we observe".

Black holes, which are vast amounts of matter asked into small areas, are typically ten times larger than our own sun but packed into an area roughly the diameter of NY city. Researchers combed through data made by the space-based Chandra X-ray Observatory.

The team observed the X-ray signatures of 12 black hole binaries within three light years of Sagittarius A.

U.S. astrophysicist Dr Chuck Hailey, from Columbia University in New York City, said: "This finding confirms a major theory and the implications are many".

Professor Hailey said that if astronomers can pinpoint the number of black holes at the galaxy's centre, the finding will greatly benefit the advancement of gravitational wave research.

Sobral and his team found galaxies that existed when the Universe was only 20 to 7% of its current age, and hence provide crucial information about the early phases of galaxy formation.

The research was funded by NASA.