Huge Black Hole Discovered


Astronomers at the University of Texas have discovered what may be the most massive black hole yet. The unusual black hole is 17 billion times the size of the Sun and makes up 14 percent of its galaxy’s mass. Galaxy NGC 1277 lies 220 million light-years away in the constellation Perseus. The galaxy is tiny, only 10 percent the size and mass of our own Milky Way. But the black hole is more than 11 times as wide as Neptune’s orbit around the sun.

Largest Black Hole Discovered
Credit: NASA/ESA/Andrew C. Fabian

Although the newfound black hole tips the scales at the mass equivalent of 17 billion suns, it lies at the center of the compact galaxy NGC 1277, whose diameter is only about one-quarter that of the Milky Way. “This is a really oddball galaxy,” said team member Karl Gebhardt. “It’s almost all black hole. This could be the first object in a new class of galaxy-black hole systems.”

So what are black holes? And what makes them black? Brian Greene demystifies the legendary might of these cosmological powerhouses. 

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