Astronomy

Scientists Found A Supermassive Black Hole The Size Of 17 Billion Suns

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In April of 2016, scientists uncovered a supermassive black hole that is the size of 17 billion suns. And they found it residing in an unlikely place.

Related: Stephen Hawking Thinks There's A Way Out Of A Black Hole

What It Is

Supermassive black holes aren't called that for nothin'! They are black holes on steroids—supermassive black holes contain between a million and a billion times more mass than a typical stellar black hole. In April 2016, astronomers found a near-record breaking supermassive black hole. This object, which was found in the NBC 1600 galaxy, weighs about 17 billion suns (yes, that is billions with a B). The behemoth was detected by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Telescope in Hawaii. This discovery is big, but not the biggest: The largest supermassive black hole we've uncovered has the mass of about 21 billion suns. The record-breaker sits in the crowded Coma galaxy cluster that consists of over 1,000 galaxies.

Related: What Do Black Holes Look Like?

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It's Mind-Boggling, But Is It Important?

This supermassive black hole is significant because it's so unexpected. This one doesn't quite make sense if you look at what we thought we knew about supermassive black holes. Basically, we thought there was a relationship between the size a black hole can be and the density and size of a part of the universe. But the black hole in the NGC 1600 galaxy threw astronomers way off. Because this supermassive black hole is in a sparsely populated part of the universe, scientists think there may be more supermassive black holes out there than we thought.

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This Black Hole Is 17 Billion Times Larger Than The Sun

Step into the NGC 1600 galaxy and take a peak at this behemoth.

Where Is The Closest Black Hole?

Why can't we see any in the night sky?

How Many Black Holes Are In The Universe?

...do we even want to know?

How Massive Can Black Holes Get?

The 17-billion sun supermassive black hole isn't even the most massive.

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