Biggest black holes discovered

2011-12-05 22:26

Paris - Scientists have discovered the two biggest black holes ever observed, each with a mass billions of times greater than the Sun's, according to a study published on Monday.

The two giants are located in the heart of a pair of galaxies several hundred million light years from Earth, said the study in scientific journal Nature.

Each black hole is estimated to have a mass about 10 billion times greater than the sun, dwarfing the previously largest-known black hole, which has a mass of 6.3 billion suns.

The University of California, Berkeley, team led by Nicholas McConnell and Chung-Pei Ma said one black hole is located in NGC 3842, the brightest of a cluster of galaxies about 320 million light years from Earth.

The second hole is of "comparable or greater mass" and is located in NGC 4889, the brightest galaxy in the Coma cluster, about 335 million light years away.

"These two black holes are significantly more massive than predicted," the astronomers wrote.

They said their calculations suggest that different evolutionary processes influence the growth of the largest galaxies and their black holes than in smaller galaxies.

Astronomers have long supposed that since the universe began it has harboured black holes with a mass the size of the two newly found giants.

These cosmic gluttons grow in tandem with their galaxies, slurping up gases, planets and stars.

"There is a symbiotic relationship between black holes and their galaxies that has existed since the dawn of time," Kevin Schawinski, a Yale astronomer said in a June study.

  • Jack - 2011-12-05 23:10

    Then there are those who still think they are big in this world.

      mal10s - 2011-12-06 02:35

      Aye. No black hole will ever be as massive as the arrogance of the human beings who thinks that they know everything. I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children.

      Modefan - 2011-12-06 08:10

      WTF? What is a religous fanatic doing on the science page?

      IAmTheDarkPrince - 2011-12-06 08:50

      Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind. ~Albert Einstein.

      Modefan - 2011-12-06 13:32

      @mal10s .....uhhm, if human beings think they know everything...why would they want to know more?

      mal10s - 2011-12-07 00:57

      @ modefan: Exactly the reaction I was expecting. You, for instance, seem to KNOW I'm a religious fanatic, while in fact I'm no more than a humble soul who can't help but praise my Maker when contemplating the enormity of it all. (I mean correct me if I'm wrong but these things each weigh more than our entire GALAXY?!?) Yes, the curiosity of the human spirit is a quite endearing trait, my friend, but the arrogance of some of these flecks of dust who live on a planet the size and complexity of which they can't even begin to grasp (which itself is no more than a fleck of dust orbiting a sun which most humans would be hard pressed to make out with the naked eye even from just a few light years away, in a galaxy you can't even see without a very powerful telescope from the distance of any of these two black holes) to think that they KNOW there is no God and to call people like myself religious nuts and knuckle draggers, that is a NOT so endearing trait...

      Victor - 2011-12-07 07:50

      "IAmTheDarkPrince" "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish" -Albert Einstein "It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. " —Carl Sagan

      Victor - 2011-12-07 07:53

      mal10s: "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children" Please keep your religion to yourself - why are you posting this nonsense on a science article? "Exactly the reaction I was expecting" Definition of a troll: One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument Are you a troll?

      mal10s - 2011-12-07 19:47

      @ Viktor: "Please keep your religion to yourself - why are you posting this nonsense on a science article?" Last time I checked we still had both religious freedom AND freedom of expression enshrined in our constitution. Please feel free to blabber on about your religion orlack thereof to your heart's content on this page. And everybody feel free to make any number of lame Juju or Zuma jokes on this same page as well. But please refrain from trying to keep me from exclaiming in wonder when I read about something vastly greater than you and me will ever be able to grasp.

      Victor - 2011-12-08 09:56

      mal10s: You missed my point entirely and it seems you are nothing more than a troll

      mal10s - 2011-12-08 20:19

      Ag mr Viktor I got your point about me being a troll completely - I just chose not to respond because it would be difficult to do so without calling your good self some names as well. (Anyway I have been called much worse than that for voicing my beliefs even on "religious" forums) You, on the other hand, are still missing my point completely, and putting yourself in the category of people I referred to in my first post. You are so intent on freaking out about anybody who's beliefs differ in the slightest from yours that you probably missed the point of this entire article...

  • shahnoor - 2011-12-06 00:07

    Too infinity and beyond....

  • Ari - 2011-12-06 02:30

    Dear me! In reading the heading I thought here is another article about Zuma and Malema. Luckily not the case -

      Mhlonso - 2011-12-06 07:02

      Or the heading could have been "there are two blackholes hovering above Zuma and Malema's houses. The reported third black holee has destroyed Selebi".

  • Tyron - 2011-12-06 08:54

    Just a thought... since these black holes are so far away, surely we are merely looking at the past? By the time we "see" these things so much time has passed that it could be completely changed?!

      Brett - 2011-12-06 09:33

      this is true. we are looking at these areas as they were 320-335 million years ago. This is why it is important. It helps us understand the forming of galaxies and the dynamics inside them a lot better. While it is in the past now and things may have changed (although celestial bodies of this size generally require many millions of years to change anyway) it is the mechanics of the galaxies that is the vital part here and not their state in current time.

      Nathi - 2011-12-06 10:18

      in the same breadth, black holes bend light and time, which also raises further questions. As you know energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred.

  • paul.maarman - 2011-12-06 09:06

    ...mister Sulu, take us into that blackhole.... maximum shields...

  • Victor - 2011-12-07 08:26

    For anyone interested in black holes I can recommend "Through the wormhole" episode 2. Narrated by Morgan Freeman and quite a well made series. Not quite in the league of Cosmos but still great.

      mal10s - 2011-12-07 20:03

      Those who prefer reading may wish to check out

  • fouriechristian - 2011-12-17 11:56

    What! They only found that black holes now...Come to South Africa, we got a lot of Black Holes in Goverment!

  • fouriechristian - 2011-12-17 12:08

    Just thought of a name for these two Black Holes, that "These cosmic gluttons grow in tandem with their galaxies, slurping up gases, planets and stars." ....Malema & Zuma? Any-one disagree with this ;-)

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