Astronomers think they have discovered, with Hobby-Eberly Telescope at Texas's McDonald Observatory the largest black hole ever observed, which has
the mass of about 17 billion times the Sun's.

This monster, whose age is estimated at about 8 billion years, is located at 220 millions light-years from Earth in the spiral galaxy NGC 1277, which is 10 times smaller than the Milky way.

To be honest, the supermassive black hole is very immense : 11 times greater than the orbit of Neptune around the Sun. It is so huge that it represents 14 % of the mass of NGC 1277, against only 0.1% usually. A proportion so high that it could force experts to revise their theories about galaxy formation, they say.

"It is really a unusual galaxy", says Karl Gebhardt of the University of Texas, Austin. "It is almost entirely a black hole. It could constitute the first object of a new class, galactic black holes", says the researcher, co-author of the study published on Wednesday by the British magazine Nature.

First or second biggest black hole ?

We're sure that NGC 1277's black hole is the 2nd biggest black hole found ever, and could be the first. The mass of current number one, discovered only in 2011, has not yet been calculated accurately and oscillates between 6 and 37 billion times Sun's mass.

Black holes create a gravitational field so intense that not even light can escape. A black hole forms when a very large star collapses on itself at the end of his life. It can then continue to grow, swallowing up other stars or fuse with other black holes, which sometimes create these supermassive black holes that occupy the center of galaxies. But NGC 1277's black hole challenges this theory by its disproportionate size compared to its galaxy.

Thus, we ask this question : is this extraordinary black hole unique or is it indicative of a cosmic formation mechanism, and this unknown until now ?

1 comment

  1. That is a big hole. "Which came first, the Galaxy or the Black Hole?" In light of the recent crystal particle discovery at the super collider, this question returns to back to the chicken and the egg!

    And for those who are wondering: a black hole is a dimensionless, sort of.

    The "size" of a blackhole is measured by the diameter of the "event horizon". The event horizon is the point beyond which nothing (including light) escapes. Technically, we are defining the size by how it affects what is around it, rather than a physical characteristic of the singularity itself.

    More Reading: Science News & Research

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