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Astronomers Discover The Most Massive Supermassive Black Hole In The Local Universe

The MUSE instrument on the Very Large Telescope has been used by a team of German astronomers to track the velocity of the stars in galaxy Holmberg (or Holm) 15A, the hub galaxy of a cluster of galaxies that is quite close together. These measurements enabled them to determine the supermassive black hole's mass, which is enormous.

The team estimates the black hole to be 40 billion times the mass of our Sun via direct dynamical detection, making it the most massive black hole in the immediate universe. The black hole is in the top four biggest when different estimate techniques are used. The findings have not yet undergone peer review but have been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal. The paper is accessible on arXiv.

It might be difficult to visualise something this large. The black hole is larger than M87*, the black hole that lies at the heart of M87 and whose shadow was seen earlier this year. It is nearly 10,000 times bigger than Sagittarius A*, the Milky Way's supermassive black hole.

In terms of both bulk and size, it is enormous. Black holes are extremely dense, making them comparatively tiny objects. Cygnus X-1 is a stellar black hole that is 88 kilometres (55 miles) wide and 14.8 times as massive as the Sun. However, Holm 15A* is so massive that even this typically tiny figure is astonishing. The distance between the black hole's two sides is 236 billion kilometres (147 billion miles). 1,580 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun would be the equivalent.

The large collection of galaxies known as the Abell 85 cluster, which contains Holm 15A, is undergoing at least two mergers, with gas being flung around in a gradual but catastrophic catastrophe. The supermassive black hole's enormous size is most likely a result of the merger between this big galaxy and other members of the cluster.

The black hole is four times and nine times bigger than what scientists predicted for this galaxy based on the overall mass of the stars and the star's velocity. The estimated mass, however, is consistent with models that only take into account the galaxy's core, indicating that the merging events were more detrimental to the centre area than to the galaxy as a whole.

[H/T: Science Alert]

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