You Cannot Conceive Of The Hugeness Of This Black Hole

James Marshall
December 7, 2019

Astronomers have now spotted a record-breaking heavyweight black hole at the center of a galaxy known as Holm 15A. This is because one light-year is equivalent to 5.8 trillion miles, but as the sun begins to expand as it goes out, the solar winds could potentially direct the Earth away from its orbit and towards the black hole in the middle of the galaxy.

Located in the Galaxy Holm 15A among the Abell 85 cluster, the actual span of the black hole would have a radius that's 800 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun - which is over 100 billion kilometers. Just compare it to Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of our galaxy, which is a measly 4 million solar masses.

But it was the center of Holm 15A that interested scientists. They also went on to state that while the gravitational pull is very large for black holes, it is not large enough to consume a whole galaxy. And the center was almost the size of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighboring satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way.

With the help of the observatory at the University Observatory Munich and the MUSE instrument at the Very Large Telescope in Chile, the astronomers were able to estimate the black hole's mass by measuring the motion of stars around the galaxy's core.

"There are only a few dozen direct mass measurements of supermassive black holes, and never before has it been attempted at such a distance", lead study author Jens Thomas explained to Phys.org. "But we already had some idea of the size of the Black Hole in this particular galaxy, so we tried it".

The data revealed that the center was even more faint than expected. And when there is no more gas left in the center of the galaxy to form new stars, the core gets depleted.

Galaxies collide and merge all the time. Both had supermassive black holes at their center, so when the galaxies merged, so did the black holes. According to them, two smaller black holes may have formed independently from two stars and then merged to form a single huge black hole.

"The newest generation of computer simulations of galaxy mergers gave us predictions that do indeed match the observed properties rather well", Thomas said. And maybe the motion of the galaxy's central stars could contain information about the history of a galaxy's mergers, offering something like a galactic family tree.

This huge mass came as a surprise to Krzysztof Belczyński, the Polish astronomer on the team, who had previously made a bet with other researchers that black holes with a mass of 55-130 times that of the sun can not be found during the first hundred observations using LIGO-Virgo gravitational wave detectors. 'We knew from our past studies that such low central surface brightnesses in big galaxies are a signature produced by the merging of two supermassive black holes; so, when we saw that Holm 15A had such a surface brightness profile, we realized that only a huge central black hole could have produced it'.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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