The celestial phenomenon is estimated to have a mass more than 30 billion times that of the Sun
An “ultramassive” black hole described as being on the upper limit The theoretical size of cosmic bodies has been discovered by British scientists, according to a study published Wednesday by the Royal Astronomical Society.
A Durham University team led by Dr. James Nightingale say the black hole was discovered using a technique called gravitational lensing, which allows observation of phenomena in the distant universe by detecting how they interact with passing light.
Nightingale said the discovery of this black hole was “extremely exciting” since it is “about 30 billion times the mass of our sun” — a size, he says, that puts it high on the scale of how big modern science understands black holes can become.
“Even as an astronomer, I have a hard time understanding how big this thing is,” Nightingale told BBC Radio on Wednesday. “This black hole is larger than the majority of galaxies in the universe.”
Nightingale added that sheer size pushes scientific understanding of black holes to its limits. He also asked how a black hole of such incredible mass could form. “in just 13 billion years of existence of the universe.”
A black hole is an extremely dense object in space that has such strong gravity that nothing, not even light, can escape from it. Ultramassive black holes are believed to be the largest objects in the universe and are found at the center of large galaxies, such as the Milky Way.
However, several blind spots remain in humanity’s understanding of ultramassive black holes. Their precise origins are unclear, but a popular theory is that they were formed by the collisions of massive galaxies billions of years ago in the infancy of the universe.
The findings in Wednesday’s report date back to 2004, when Professor Alastair Edge of Durham University first noticed a telltale arc of light while examining images from a galaxy survey from space distant.
The study of the object has progressed with the help of the Max Planck Institute in Germany, as well as high-resolution images from NASA’s Hubble Telescope, as well as the supercomputer facilities at Durham University, which confirmed the presence of the black hole.