A new supermassive black hole has been discovered, and we’re not even trying to make our heads spin about its size.
The massive body first observed is 30 billion times more massive than the Sun and is located hundreds of millions of light years away.
And don’t worry if that scale is impossible to imagine — even the researchers leading the project can’t fully grasp it.
“Even as an astronomer, I find it difficult to understand how massive this thing is,” James Nightingale told BBC Radio Newcastle.
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Nightingale is a study author from Durham University’s Department of Physics, and is part of the team that made the discovery. The results are published in magazine Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
He went on to say in a press release that experts believe black holes cannot grow much larger than the newly discovered object, which means they may remain one of the largest ever discovered for some time.
“This particular black hole, about 30 billion times the mass of our sun, is one of the largest ever discovered and at the upper limit of how massive black holes can be theoretically, so it’s a very exciting finding,” Nightingale said in a statement. press release.
The full extent of the black hole was noticeable after studying the phenomenon of gravitational lensing. In the cases of full galaxies and massive objects like this one, they have such a strong gravitational force that they can bend light.
In this way, the light from galaxies hidden behind other galaxies becomes more detectable because of the way the entities near Earth are bent.
“Most of the largest black holes we know of are in an active state, where matter being pulled near the black hole heats up and releases energy in the form of light, X-rays and other radiation,” Nightingale added.
However, gravitational lensing makes it possible to study inactive black holes, something that is not currently possible in distant galaxies. This approach could allow us to detect many more black holes outside our local universe and reveal how these exotic objects evolved back in cosmic time. .”
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