Found in our neighboring galaxy, M87 is one of the largest black holes ever found to be in such close proximity to Earth. Read on.
The black hole inside a neighboring galaxy, known as M87, is obese and filled with the equivalent of 6.6 billion of our suns, according to new measurements. In comparison, the black hole at the centre of our galaxy is estimated to 25 times the size of the Sun.
Black holes of this scale are relatively rare, thus it is even more surprising that one exists relatively nearby, just 50 million light years away.
The finding refines previous estimates of the size of M87’s black hole, which ranged from one billion to more than six billion times the mass of the sun. The research is expected to help nail down estimates of even bigger black holes associated with ancient distant galaxies known as quasars.
“It’s important to find these very large black holes. It’s the upper end of the black hole mass that really matters,” said astronomer Karl Gebhardt, with the University of Texas at Austin.
These new accurate measurements are a result of telescope enhancements which compensate for the distortions caused by Earth’s atmosphere.