Sunday, May 12, 2013

Biggest Black Hole Ever

This post is for all my stargazers and home astronomers. The biggest black hole ever was discovered by a group of scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.

Black holes are intergalactic omnivores. They consume light, stars, planets, asteroids and even other black holes. A normal black hole like the one in the center of our MilkyWay galaxy only occupies 0.1 percent of the host galaxy's total mass. The black hole in galaxy NGC 1277 consumes 14 percent of the host galaxy's mass. 

To put it in numbers you can understand. The NGC 1277 black hole, has a estimated mass of 17 billion suns. (that's billion with a B) "The gigantic black hole is around 11 times as wide as the orbit of Neptune around our sun," researchers said. It's so massive they have to develop a new classification for "galaxy sized black hole systems."

As of right now astrophysics doesn't know what happens to matter after it passed through a black hole. Once something is trapped in a black holes gravitational pull there's no escape. The object begins to spin faster and faster until it disappears. The point when matter disappears in the black hole is called the "Event Horizon." At this point matter gives off swirling waves of X-rays as it disappears forever.

Black holes are difficult to study directly since they consume everything. So scientists have developed a system to measure them, by calculating the gravitational pull on their surroundings. By watching the X-rays emitted by dying matter (imagine watching something really shiny getting ground up in a blender.) scientist can estimate the size, mass and numerous other details about a black hole.

What scientists have discovered is that the inside of a black hole spins at nearly the speed of light. This is a monumental discovery which confirms Einstein’s "theory of  relativity," which theorized that black holes could spin at almost the speed of light. For more information about black holes and new developments based on these discoveries check out the video and reference articles below. 

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