Scientists discover ultramassive black hole that can fit 30 billion suns
Astronomers have discovered the largest black hole in the universe. The black hole is so big that it can fit a whopping 30 million suns. It is located in the centre of a galaxy hundreds of millions of light-years from Earth. While most black holes are usually called supermassive black holes, this one is so gigantic that it is called, an ultramassive black hole.
The Royal Astronomical Society published its findings in which it said a new technique was used to detect the ultramassive black hole. The technique, called gravitational lensing, through which they used a galaxy nearer than the other one as a magnifying glass to observe the galaxy further away in the background. Gravity in this method bends the light around extremely massive objects. Gravitational lensing is like a natural magnifying lens which astronomers use frequently to observe extremely distant objects that human-made telescopes can't view.
Astronomers were able to closely examine the way a black hole inside a galaxy hundreds of millions of light-years from Earth bends light. The black hole sits in one of the galaxies of the Abell 1201 galaxy cluster.
"This particular black hole, which is roughly 30 billion times the mass of our sun, is one of the biggest ever detected and on the upper limit of how large we believe black holes can theoretically become, so it is an extremely exciting discovery," James Nightingale, an astrophysicist at Durham University in the UK and lead author of the new study, said in a statement.
The size of the ultramassive black hole was confirmed by the Hubble Space Telescope which analysed the magnification of the foreground object in a series of images.
Scientists say this black hole isn't as active. It isn't swallowing too much material and also not producing strong X-ray radiation.
"Most of the biggest black holes that we know about are in an active state, where matter pulled in close to the black hole heats up and releases energy in the form of light, X-rays, and other radiation," Nightingale said. "However, gravitational lensing makes it possible to study inactive black holes, something not currently possible in distant galaxies. This approach could let us detect many more black holes beyond our local universe and reveal how these exotic objects evolved further back in cosmic time."