»Articles»Ancient World»Enormous Black Hole Gapes Wide Open in Space

Enormous Black Hole Gapes Wide Open in Space

Plamena M.Plamena M.

A cosmic surprise - this is what astronomers are describing what the Hubble Space Telescope has spotted in the heart of the galaxy NGC 4889. This is the largest black hole scientists have ever seen.

Recently, Hubble gave scientists the opportunity to peer into galaxy NGC 4889, located in the constellation Coma Berenices. It is located 300 million light years from Earth. The data gathered provide scientists new information about black holes.

The gigantic black hole found at the center of the galaxy is the largest seen so far. Images show a giant white sphere on a black starry background.

According to initial estimates, the mass of this sleeping giant is 21 billion times that of our Sun. By comparison, the mass of the black hole in our own galaxy comes out to 4.1 million solar masses.

The find is truly impressive. The black hole has a gravitational radius of about 130 billion km, equaling to 15 times the distance between the Sun and Neptune.

Gas Clouds

The black hole NGC 4889 is dormant. It lacks "food" around it which to activate it. If it were active, scientists would have spotted it much earlier. Similar but active massive objects are called quasars. If the supermassive black hole were such, it would glow about a billion times brighter than the Milky Way, due to the heated dark matter around it.

Active black holes cannot be observed directly. They are exceptionally odd, in that they are regions of space-time which nothing, not even light, can escape, due to the immense gravitational pull.

They are found and measured based on the way they affect other objects around them, such as stars and gas clouds. But no one knows for sure what exactly happens to the objects that fall into one.