February 11, 2016 2:02 pm

Record-breaking supermassive black hole found in heart of far-off galaxy

Hidden from human eyes is a supermassive black hole within this elliptical galaxy, NGC 4889.


A supermassive black hole — with the mass 21 billion times that of our own sun — has been found at the heart of a distant galaxy.

NGC 4889 is an elliptical galaxy. Rather than being the galaxy most people think of, elliptical galaxies look like they have no real structure, with their collection of stars looking more like blobs in space.

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The galaxy is about 300 million light years away, in the heart of a galaxy cluster known as the Coma Cluster. The black hole has an event horizon — a location where not even light can escape — with diameter of 130 billion km. That’s approximately the distance between the sun and Neptune, the last planet in our solar system. Comparatively, the black hole at the heart of our galaxy has an event horizon about one-fifth the orbit of Mercury, the closest planet to the sun and a mass of about four million times that of the sun.

Astronomers believe that the black hole is no longer gobbling up matter. In fact, they believe that stars have begun to form in the surrounding region.

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