18 Billion Suns -Biggest Black Hole in Universe Discovered—and it’s BIG! A Galaxy Classic
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May 08, 2009

18 Billion Suns -Biggest Black Hole in Universe Discovered—and it’s BIG! A Galaxy Classic

Black_hole_big_2_3Whatever gave birth to this monster can be real proud. The biggest black hole in the universe weighs in with a respectable mass of 18 billion Suns, and is about the size of an entire galaxy. Just like in the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito flick “Twins”, the massive black hole has a puny twin hovering nearby. By observing the orbit of the smaller black hole, astronomers are able to test Einstein's theory of general relativity with stronger gravitational fields than ever before.

The biggest black hole beats out its nearest competitor by six times. Fortunately, it’s 3.5 billion light years away, forming the heart of a quasar called OJ287. Quasars are extremely bright objects in which matter spiraling into a giant black hole emits large amounts of radiation.

The smaller black hole, which weighs about 100 million Suns, orbits the larger one on an oval-shaped path every 12 years. It comes close enough to punch through the disc of matter surrounding the larger black hole twice each orbit, causing a pair of outbursts that make OJ287 suddenly brighten.

General relativity predicts that the smaller hole's orbit itself should rotate over time, so that the point at which it comes nearest its neighbor moves around in space. This effect  is seen in Mercury's orbit around the Sun, on a much smaller scale.

In the case of OJ287, the tremendous gravitational field of the larger black hole causes the smaller black hole's orbit to precess at an impressive 39° each orbit. The precession changes where and when the smaller hole crashes through the disc surrounding its larger sibling.

About a dozen of the resulting bright outbursts have been observed to date, and astronomers led by Mauri Valtonen of Tuorla Observatory in Finland have analysed them to measure the precession rate of the smaller hole's orbit. That, along with the period of the orbit, suggests the larger black hole weighs a record 18 billion Suns.

So just how big can these bad boys get? Craig Wheeler of the University of Texas in Austin, US, says it depends only on how long a black hole has been around and how fast it has swallowed matter in order to grow. "There is no theoretical upper limit," he says.

The most recent outburst occurred on 13 September 2007, as predicted by general relativity. "If there was no orbital decay, the outburst would have been 20 days later than when it actually happened," Valtonen told New Scientist, adding that the black holes are on track to merge within 10,000 years.

Wheeler says the observations of the outbursts fit closely with the expectations from general relativity. "The fact that you can fit Einstein's theory [so well] ... is telling you that that's working," he says.

Posted by Rebecca Sato

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Links:

http://space.newscientist.com/article/dn13166-biggest-black-hole-in-the-cosmos-discovered.html
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/080109-aas-massive-black-holes.html

Comments

I think it's safe to say we can start shipping our trash into outer space. lol

Only 18 billion huh? I've seen bigger...

Just to toss out there some info, 18 billion solar masses would lead to a black hole with a approx radius of 32.9 billion miles. It would take light approx 49 hours to travel from the edge to the center of the event horizon to its center if it were flat compared to 8 minutes from our sun to the earth. Its not the size of a galaxy, as the milky way is approx 100,000 light years across, but an object that is even 98 light hours across is hard to imagine. To put that in perspective, if you take the distance from the Earth to the Sun (93 million miles), and multiply it by 735 times, you will get the diameter of this black hole.

Have they tried measuring to see if there is any hawking radiation / what entropy it has?

what you mean "on track to merge within 10,000 years"?
The outbursts occurred 3.5 billion years ago ,so they have already merged ages ago.
According to calculations within my head, the radius of the larger black hole would be about 54 billion km.
It'd slightly increased to about 54.3 billion km after they merged assuming the 2 singularities'd merge.
According to my knowledge, what ever got sucked into the event horizon will no longer have dimensions & lost , time stands still in there so I am not sure if they did merge.
Lets put it this way, at the event horizon, you can't see what ever got sucked in there (b/c light can't escape/reflect), you can't feel it (no longer has dimension) , time stands still, it is LOST.
SO I AM NOT VERY SURE IF THE 2 SINGULARITIES'D MERGE.

Is that picture real? it looks real but i don't think so.

Good article...BUT
With full respect for the researchers , I still do Not understand well the 'Quasars'...and the tremendous energy they emit....

I understand that black holes generally are the result of a supenova explosion (and collapse)...as for example SN 1987-A in LMC.......

If the equivalent mass of these giants is true (billions of a solar mass) they cannot be the result of a Supernova ...then there is my question again ....

'What is a Quasar????? and 'what generated the gigantic black hole or Cluster of massive black holes...that are mentioned in this article'...?????????

These giant BH are resembling 'REMNANTS of some gigantic explosion'......What was that explosion ????
An entire galaxy ?? ...or What ???

Do they relate to gamma ray Burst that are so dangerous...for planet Earth life ????

Thanks in advance for your explanations

Regards

Unclear, vague, nebulous, hazy, & I think that DG ran this article or a similar one before.

If they're 3.5 billion light years away, and going to "merge" in 10,000 years, wouldn't that mean they actually merged a long time ago?...

If main black hole has mass of 18 billion suns and smaller companion's mass equals 100 million suns how is larger one 6 times bigger? Shouldn't it be 180 times bigger?

Peter, the way I read that is that the Huge BH is six times bigger than the next-largest known black hole, not the one in its orbit.

The writing could have been clearer by referencing the specific objects by name.

the universe cannot end really, a newer, popular theory suggensts that the big bang is a repeting occurence and it is a cycle, the unverse expands and contracts, since god knows when (heh heh heh heh, this contadicts "god")but most of what people are typeing is off topic! what if some 7th grader *cough* were to see this and is not as smart as me?

mass refers to the eqation gravity
-------
weight the other back hole is 6 times smaller, but it has a higher density per unit

wot a lode of shit

is there a website u can go 2 to look at facts etc. about r universe

wow soo cool! I find black holes very interestinhg its amazing. So um I wonder if if nasa could send a camera or something inside a black hole... it would probelly be gone though.

OMG

all u guys need to get a hobby or something cause all of u have too much time on ur hands.

This is absurd, how can the larger black hole swallow the smaller one in 10000 years?

The radiation we receive is 3500000000 years old and all of a sudden, essentially right now on a universal time scale, it's set to collide but hasn't for how long exactly?

Also, I was wondering, when scientists make predictions about these things, saying in 10000 years they merge when in fact 3499990000 years ago they did.


Hence, it's silly.

Also, in regards to someone else's comment, time does not stand still elsewhere, it progresses normally, you'd have to be in it to witness it.

Also, something within the event horizon is not forever lost. It can be retrieved, most likely not intact, if the black hole is disbursed by a heavier but denser object which in itself also explodes.

Considering the size of canis majoris, why has'nt it collapsed into a black hole?

"the black holes are on track to merge within 10,000 years."
This statement is completely right, considering that the light from the black hole needs 3.5 giga years to reach us.
It will take another 10.000 years here to receive the image they emitted 3.49999gyr ago. Then we will able to see the image their collision looked like.
No mistake at all.


WOW....A true giant.

It was old 3.5 Billion LY ??

Why everybody says it is 'distant' 3.5 Billions LY ????

DO not know why so many people get confused about the space time Web (or fabric ??).

This monster is lighting a huge quasar ???

Again confusion : a quasar aside from the FACT that it is NOT very well known..YET , is definitely NOT a huge cloud of superheated gas that is (WAS) being swallowed by the monster BH.

Quasars are the effects of explosion of Gigastars of an early universe...this is best current Theory....when the gigastar-quasar collapses then the quasar has not much sense and a new galaxy is being formed by the terrible pull of the giga-black hole.

May be we are changing everything to black holes...and anyway such a giga black hole had quite few chances to become the center of a gigantic galaxy....which is not mentioned at all.

Therefore It is a remnant of a quasar what the article refers to...and the quasar should be the remnant of an exploding gigastr...which in turn should NOT be at only 3.5 Billion Y of distance....

There must be some confusion around.

Regards to the old Gigastars and quasars who became after collapse gigablack holes and generated large galaxies....exactly in this universe many Billion Y agò...

I can accept that the event horizon of an 18 billion solar mass black hole can be exceptionally large, but how come?
After all, "matter" falling into it must already have been
dematerialised and is nothing more than accumulated energy in wave form expressed as non dissipating gravity waves outside of the even horizon. Any body out there to elucidate me?

It's not a Too-mah!

The fucking bitch took my wallet


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