Latest in Tomorrow

Image credit:

Scientists find the largest observed black hole to date

It's 10,000 times larger than the one at the heart of the Milky Way.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 11, 2019
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

X-ray (NASA/CXC/SAO/A.Vikhlinin et al.); Optical (SDSS)

Astronomers aren't done with major black hole discoveries this year. The Max Planck Institute's Kianusch Mehrgan and colleagues have found the largest black hole ever observed at the center of Holm 15A, a galaxy about 700 million light-years away. It's more than twice as large as the previous observed record-setter at 40 billion times the mass of the Sun, and 10,000 times the mass of the black hole at the core of the Milky Way.

The team spotted the black hole using data from the Very Large Telescope array. The wealth of extra data from the Chile observatory helped them map the structure of Holm 15A in unprecedented detail, helping them run simulations to explain the galaxy's formation and its unusually faint center. Simply speaking, the black hole is so powerful and large (its radius is about 790AU) that it has either swallowed up the closest stars or tossed them toward the galaxy's edge.

This isn't necessarily the largest black hole detected. That distinction goes to the quasar TON 618 -- indirect studies suggest its black hole could be 66 billion times the Sun's mass. It's still gigantic, though, and it's about four to nine times larger than astronomers expected. The discovery could significantly expand humanity's understanding of the scale of the universe, not to mention fundamentals like galaxy formation.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Chevy will start selling EV retrofit kits in 2021

Chevy will start selling EV retrofit kits in 2021

View
Disney robot with human-like gaze is equal parts uncanny and horrifying

Disney robot with human-like gaze is equal parts uncanny and horrifying

View
Nest thermostats in the US and Canada can now monitor your HVAC system

Nest thermostats in the US and Canada can now monitor your HVAC system

View
Roborace engineer explains why a driverless racecar drove into a wall

Roborace engineer explains why a driverless racecar drove into a wall

View
$149 Playdate handheld is 'ready to go,' orders start in early 2021

$149 Playdate handheld is 'ready to go,' orders start in early 2021

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr