A team of astronomers have discovered two massive black holes that are now the largest black holes known to exist throughout the known universe.
The team, led by astronomers at UC Berkeley, discovered the unimaginably large black holes within clusters of elliptical galaxies nearly 300 million light years from our own galaxy, which in galactic terms makes it a couple cities over from the Milky Way. The researchers say that each black hole is 10 billion times more massive than our own sun.
By contrast, the previous black hole to hold the record for being the largest in the known universe was “only” six billion times more massive than our own sun, which itself is roughly 100 times larger than Earth.
“I’m very excited right now because I think learning about these black holes will tell us about how the galaxies were formed. We think they were formed when their parent galaxies were formed,” said Chung-Pei Ma, a professor of astronomy at Berkeley who was involved in the findings. “I’m just very curious to know how these black holes got so monstrous. This is an enormous amount of mass in a very small space.”
These particular black holes are believed to be the remnants of violent quasars during the early formation of the universe. Black holes are believed to form when a massive star collapses in on itself.
“I would think of a black hole as a monster lurking in space that you cannot see but it’s capable of sucking in material if you go really close to it. It’s a region in the universe with the strongest gravity,” Ma told ABC News.
via ABC News
[Image: Artist’s concept by Pete Marenfeld/NOAO]