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Science, Inventions & Space Discuss Astronomers find biggest black hole ever at the General Discussion; I heard about this earlier this year. Truly a stunning find. I have long suspected there were black holes this ...

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Old 11-30-2012, 03:37 AM
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Default Astronomers find biggest black hole ever

I heard about this earlier this year. Truly a stunning find. I have long suspected there were black holes this size in the universe, most likely even larger.

Quote:
Astronomers have discovered what may be the most massive black hole ever known in a small galaxy about 250 million light-years from Earth, scientists say.

The supermassive black hole has a mass equivalent to 17 billion suns and is located inside the galaxy NGC 1277 in the constellation Perseus. It makes up about 14 percent of its host galaxy's mass, compared with the 0.1 percent a normal black hole would represent, scientists said.

"This is a really oddball galaxy," said study team member Karl Gebhardt of the University of Texas at Austin in a statement. "It's almost all black hole. This could be the first object in a new class of galaxy-black hole systems."

The giant black hole is about 11 times as wide as the orbit of Neptune around our sun, researchers said. The mass is so far above normal that the scientists took a year to double-check and submit their research paper for publication, according to the study's lead author, Remco van den Bosch.

"The first time I calculated it, I thought I must have done something wrong. We tried it again with the same instrument, then a different instrument," van den Bosch, an astronomer at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, told SPACE.com. "Then I thought, 'Maybe something else is happening.'"

Galactic evolution questioned

The finding may have implications for our understanding of how giant black holesevolve in the center of galaxies.

Astronomers typically believe that the size of the central part of a galaxy, and the black hole inside of it, are linked. But the vastly different proportions seen in NGC 1277 are calling that into question.

NGC 1277's black hole could be many times more massive than its largest known competitor, which is estimated but not confirmed to be between 6 billion and 37 billion solar masses in size.It makes up about 59 percent of its host galaxy's central mass - the bulge of stars at the core. The object's closest competitor is in the galaxy NGC 4486B, whose black hole takes up 11 percent of that galaxy's central bulge mass.

However, van den Bosch's team says it has also spotted five other galaxies near NGC 1277 that look about the same, and may also harbor gigantic black holes inside of them.

"You always expect to find one sort [of a phenomenon], but now we have six of them," van den Bosch said. "We didn't expect them, because we do expect the black holes and the galaxies to influence each other."

The research is detailed in the Nov. 29 edition of the journal Nature.

Black hole census

Van den Bosch said his team discovered the mega black holes during a survey to seek "the biggest black holes we could find."

The astronomers analyzed the light coming from 700 galaxies, using an immense light-gathering telescope: the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at the University of Texas at Austin's Mcdonald Observatory.

From that large survey, they found six galaxies with stars and other objects whipping about inside of them at unusually high average speeds — more than 218 miles a second (350 kilometers). The galaxies also were small, at less than 9,784 light-years across.

Suspecting the speed and size measurements meant massive black holes lay inside these galaxies, the team used Hubble Space Telescope archival data of NGC 1277 and discovered the large black hole.

The team also noted that NGC 1277 has only old stars inside it. The youngest stars in the galaxy are 8 billion years old, almost twice the age of our sun.

Van den Bosch said he is curious to know if these large black holes only formed in the early years of the universe.

"It could just be this thing has been sitting around since the Big Bangand not done much since then," he said. "It might be a relic of what star formation and galactic formation looked like at that time."
Read more: Astronomers find biggest black hole ever | Fox News

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Old 11-30-2012, 08:00 AM
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Default Re: Astronomers find biggest black hole ever

I noticed this in the news. Other than an interesting fun fact, what good are we getting out of the study of black holes?
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:06 AM
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Default Re: Astronomers find biggest black hole ever

So the astronomers have been in the government offices again?

Seriously though, how does one measure a 'black hole'? Isn't that like proving a negative?
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:51 AM
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Default Re: Astronomers find biggest black hole ever

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Seriously though, how does one measure a 'black hole'? Isn't that like proving a negative?
Kepler's modified third law of planetary motion.

The vast majority of black holes we have discovered and observed have a star orbiting around them. You can measure the mass of the black hole by calculating the speed and orbit size. If no star is present you can also use other celestial bodies or even orbiting gas.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:15 AM
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Default Re: Astronomers find biggest black hole ever

I think black holes are scary and we should leave them alone.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:18 AM
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Default Re: Astronomers find biggest black hole ever

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I think black holes are scary and we should leave them alone.
Especially ones wearing hoodies and carrying Skittles.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:19 AM
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Default Re: Astronomers find biggest black hole ever

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Especially ones wearing hoodies and carrying Skittles.
Presactly!
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Old 11-30-2012, 01:33 PM
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Default Re: Astronomers find biggest black hole ever

First...

Quote:
It makes up about 14 percent of its host galaxy's mass, compared with the 0.1 percent a normal black hole would represent, scientists said.
Followed by...

Quote:
"This is a really oddball galaxy," said study team member Karl Gebhardt of the University of Texas at Austin in a statement. "It's almost all black hole. This could be the first object in a new class of galaxy-black hole systems."
How the heck can FOURTEEN PERCENT be considered "almost all" black hole?!?!?

Sensationalized hyperbole...
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Old 12-01-2012, 07:26 AM
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Default Re: Astronomers find biggest black hole ever

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Originally Posted by cnredd View Post
First...

Followed by...

How the heck can FOURTEEN PERCENT be considered "almost all" black hole?!?!?

Sensationalized hyperbole...
Galaxies are not round. They are mostly dinner plate style disks, (with some exceptions). The space between stellar objects is enormous by comparison to the area the objects themselves occupy. Consider that the bulk of what occupies a galaxy plate is typically empty space. 14% of what spans that galaxy in particular is all black hole. I doubt all of the mass in the Milky Way even makes up 14% of the galaxy.
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Old 12-01-2012, 03:27 PM
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Default Re: Astronomers find biggest black hole ever

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Originally Posted by sadisticpixie View Post
Galaxies are not round. They are mostly dinner plate style disks, (with some exceptions). The space between stellar objects is enormous by comparison to the area the objects themselves occupy. Consider that the bulk of what occupies a galaxy plate is typically empty space. 14% of what spans that galaxy in particular is all black hole. I doubt all of the mass in the Milky Way even makes up 14% of the galaxy.
If the GEOGRAPHY of a galaxy shows 80% of empty space, then that 80% has nothing to do with the MASS of the galaxy...Empty space has NO negligible mass...So it can't (or, at least, shouldn't) count in their calculations...
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