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33 billion times the mass of the Sun / Scientists make surprising discovery: This is extremely exciting
Written by SOT.COM.AL 29 Mars 2023
An ultramassive black hole about 33 billion times the mass of the Sun has been discovered by UK astronomers. Scientists from Durham University said the supermassive black hole is one of the largest ever found.
The team described its findings, published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, as "extremely exciting".
"This particular black hole, which is roughly 30 billion times the mass of our Sun, is one of the largest ever discovered, so it's an extremely exciting discovery," said lead author Dr James Nightingale, of the Department of Physics at Durham University.
Ultramassive black holes are the most massive objects in the universe, with masses between 10 billion and 40 billion times the mass of the Sun.
Astronomers believe they can be found at the center of all large galaxies such as the Milky Way.
Ultramassive black holes are rare and elusive, and their origins are unclear. Some believe they were formed by the extreme merger of massive galaxies billions of years ago, when the universe was still young.
The researchers used a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, where they got help from a nearby galaxy by turning it into a giant magnifying glass.
This revealed the presence of an ultramassive black hole, a region where the gravitational pull is so strong that even light cannot escape.
Scientists used supercomputer simulations at Durham University and images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope to confirm the size of the supermassive black hole. They said this is the first black hole found using gravitational lensing.
"Most of the largest black holes we know about are in an active state, where matter drawn in close to the black hole heats up and emits energy in the form of light, X-rays and other radiation. However, gravitational lensing makes it possible to study inactive black holes, something that is currently not possible in distant galaxies,” said Dr Nightingale.
This approach could allow us to discover many more black holes beyond our local universe and discover how these exotic objects evolved further in cosmic time.
The researchers said their work opens up the "tempting possibility" that astronomers may discover more ultramassive black holes than previously thought.