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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

Wait, so can black holes swallow other black holes?

jesus GUYS 2 MUCH Time On Your Hands

What does the red spectrum tell us about quasars?

There are various words that need to be defined: what is a spectrum, what is a red one, why is it red, and why is it so frequently linked with quasars?

What the hell is a quasar?

i wonder if we could get mr. hawking to comment on the apparent extraneous implications of impending cataclysm?? i mean to say, is this thing unstable?? can we not deduce this monster is ambiguously,ominously harmful to us ??

I don't understand how people can be so DUMB.

Yes, when they say it's 3.5 Billion light years away, and they are set to merge in 10,000years it would mean they have already merged.
But!
We will not recieve the image of that merge for another 10,000 years.

So stop being so DUMB.

Condensed energy, dark gravity bodies. condensed atomic revolutions, only the rays will emit their presence - aha!

">http://nothing-theory.webs.com/>
Your entire life is a lie.

You've been living your entire life as a disciple of science, forced to live your lives in the theory's subduing chains. But we have come to assist you.

You, along with many other fortunate humans, will be introduced to Nothing Theory, the omnipotent encompassing theory of all.

actually, the largest black hole in the universe is 10 billion times larger than our sun. So, its hard to imagine something thats bigger than our entire solar system. Its true.

There seems to be alot of scientific minds at work here, i could use some help ^^
A black hole has infinite mass in an infinitely small volume right? That means that it has infinite gravity.
Why then is there an event horizon?
If the singularity had infintie gravity surely everything in the universe would be sucked into the BH instantly...
Doesnt that then mean that the black hole is in fact a universe? It is also thought that our universe has infinite matter and is constantly expanding which backs up my point...
My brain hurts :(

Cheerful guy .. Yes, indeed, should understand this too long!

friend, accept my condolences!

Looks familiar....

A Black Hole traps all light within it and so it is invisible, and impossible to observe directly. However it still exerts its gravitational effect in the region around it and any matter falling towards the black hole is accelerated and may be heated up and emit radiation. Because the gravitational force is so large, the temperature can become very large and then the radiation is emitted as X-rays, which can be detected and studied by X-ray observatories such as XMM. Thus the X-rays come, not from the Black Hole itself, but from the in-falling material which forms an accretion disc around it and possibly also a jet

so that means that the picture at the top, was the result of an outburst from the smaller black hole

By the way, I like your relation between Black holes and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Why does it matter how big a BH is??? If it's a BH no matter how big or small it will swallow everything right!! Or am I wrong?? A BH would strip the atoms and break everything apart no matter how hard the material is!! The only difference I think is that it would take much less time for a 18 billion solar mass BH than a 100 million solar mass BH. Am I right or wrong???

What happen if two BH collide? Well on my opinion!!! We don't know if the two cingularities can ever collide or no!!!! Just for the fact that we don't know what a cingularity is or does. An infinte number of possibilities can be true or not. My theory of BH is that they keep all the material that they consume inside and I don't think they just release it out from the universe!. It's just because light cannot scape that we cannot see the material, but it might just be squished in there. Compresed in a manner that nothing in the universe can compress anything. Maybe even create conditions such as when the universe was being created. If they release the matter out of the universe then there would be no reason for the BH to grow in mass or size. It would just be the same all the time. You might not agree with this theory but like I said you can guess a million theories and you could be right everytime since we don't know!! No proof. Well if you have an interest in the theory just reply to me and we can discus farmore on it.. Thankyou.

All these comments with swear words and people not understanding these theories, all you people don't even respect the people who do these scientific researches.

Thanks,Man will serch the till unknown universe for the truth, but How can we out of our limitations. Thank you all who are in present and serch for past and future and truth........!

in norse mythology ragnarok has happend before and will happen again, same thing with "our" universe it's happend in the past and it'll happen again, eventually all the black holes will connect and swallow everything,and then BOOM it all re-starts, and think of this, in however many trillions of it takes we will all be saying this again, and with all of our knoledge you will never be able to understand the powers that be, and you cant know its beyond your comprehension, even with all we know there are still things on earth we dont know about and never will, because life is a mystery and thats the way it should be, and thats why even if i could i would never want to know the meaning of life, 'cause i've already found mine and i hope you all will to, because it's not the meaning of all life that you should want to know just your own, these words are what i think best suits the universe, "fleeting yet everlasting" and with that i bid you farewell.

the real monster is god .. god maked all black holes and bigbang. universe maked in 5000 years ago by god . thanx god

Okay, I know they are no way near us but still, this is pretty freaky.

wow KNow dats big xD

I wonder, if we could actually send a space probe into this particular black hole considering that it's gravitational pull would be more evenly distributed on the craft. It would have to travel super fast though. Like as fast, if not faster than the speed of light it's self.

I know where black wholes come from and the answer is right in the bible? Can you find it?

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